As Our Nation Grows Divided… The Good News is We are Voting More.

How does the 2020 election turnout compare to that in past elections?

Using Voting Age Population data from U.S. Census Bureau, Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2012, and 2020 Election Data from Associated Press as of November 9th, 2020. Graphic by Christopher Rathbun

The 2020 election between Donald Trump and Joe Biden is on track to enter the history books with the highest voter turnout to date. As compared to 2016, we’ve seen increasing voting percentages across the board from small counties to large cities, for candidates both on the republican ticket and the democratic ticket.

As we see in this graph, as of November 8th, 2020, 62.07% of the Voting Age Population participated in this election. The Voting Age Population, estimated by the U.S. Census Bureau, accounts for U.S. Citizens who are over the age of 18 and can legally vote in each year's election.

This has not just been a phenomenon in 2020. As you can see from this graph, voter turnout has been generally trending upward since 1996 with a small setback in 2012.

Yet in the same period, political polarization has reached an unprecedented level as well. A Pew Research Study in 2014 shows us the middle ground between the two parties has been gradually shrinking, giving way to more radical wings of both parties.

Lack of voter participation is heightened when the public doesn’t hold a salient view on the issues debated in politics. When we have a strong opinion, we naturally are more willing to push it forward, taking the extra step to vote. As our political views polarize, we are becoming more divided, but more entrenched and committed to our beliefs as well.

The problem in the U.S. is no longer as much about political apathy, but about how we can take these extreme perspectives, and find a common, Win-Win way forward.

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