33 million Americans have voted in the midterms, with a surge of younger voters

Early voting continues to be explosive, as an energized American electorate weighs in on its government....

Posted: Nov 6, 2018 8:20 PM
Updated: Nov 6, 2018 8:20 PM

Early voting continues to be explosive, as an energized American electorate weighs in on its government.

As of early Tuesday morning, at least 33 million people have voted early nationwide, according to data collected by Catalist, a data company that works with Democrats and others, to compile counts of ballots cast before Election Day, either early in-person or by mail.

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That's far more than the 22 million early votes cast in the entire 2014 election.

The data suggests an electorate deeply engaged in voters' first real opportunity to offer a verdict on the presidency of Donald Trump, who has actively tried to turn the election into a referendum on himself.

Encouraging signs for Democrats include a clear surge in young and first-time voters in the early voting data and a larger percentage of women voters, who have appeared supportive of Democrats in recent national polls.

Also, in states where party identification is available, Democrats are a larger portion of the early voting electorate than they were in 2014.

It's important not to draw conclusions from the data. The country has been moving toward a more robust use of early voting for years. It's also not clear if the early vote in key states is showing up to support Trump and Republicans or Democrats.

But it is certainly true that at least 33 states have eclipsed their early voting totals from this point in 2014, according to Catalist.

Even amid controversies over voting in Georgia, Brian Kemp, Georgia's secretary of state and Republican candidate for governor, recently announced the state has not only broken its 2014 record, but has set a new, all-time record for early voting in a midterm election.

Nationally, the early vote is lower than it was in 2016 -- not surprising given presidential years tend to see larger turnouts than midterm elections.

But several states are already approaching their 2016 early vote totals, and New Jersey and West Virginia have now surpassed them.

Age

The Catalist records show the share of early voters under the age of 30 has increased substantially this year in many states, compared to the previous cycles.

In at least 12 states, voters under 30 make up a larger percent of the early vote this cycle than they did in 2014.

In four states -- Texas, Georgia, Nevada and New Jersey -- the share of the youth vote under 30 this cycle has roughly doubled compared with 2014.

Check out what's happened in Texas and Georgia, for instance:

The strength of the under-30 voting bloc also extends beyond the vote share, to the sheer number of voters in several states.

In Texas, for instance, more than 480,000 people under the age of 30 have now cast early ballots, compared to about 550,000 at this point in the presidential election last time, in 2016 -- a difference of only about 11%.

In West Virginia, there is only an 8% difference between the number of early votes this year compared with 2016.

And in New Jersey, there have now been more people under 30 voting early than there were in the presidential race two years ago -- up more than 800 votes, or about 2%.

First-timers

The records also allow for examining which early voters have registered to vote for the first time -- at least for 2018 (previous years were not available).

In North Dakota and Nevada, 11% of the early voting electorate are first-time voters. By contrast, in Illinois, Kansas, New Jersey and West Virginia, first-time voters only comprise between 3% and 5% of early voting.

Gender

Women continue to outpace men in early voting in every state where Catalist provided data to CNN.

Party registration

The records provided by Catalist to CNN include party registration for early vote tallies in select states.

(Those numbers reflect a count of the voter's party affiliation, but do not indicate who a voter actually chose on the ballot.)

While most states are on par with the party breakdown of previous cycles, which generally favor Republicans, Democrats have made gains in several notable places since 2014.

In Nevada and Florida, for example, Democrats have actually pulled ahead of Republicans as a share of the early vote this time.

Some key states do not have party registration information at all -- such as Texas and Georgia.

The data in this story has been updated.

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