Morning Buzz | More Americans are Choosing to Vote Early

More Americans are Choosing to Vote Before November
Early voting in the 2018 midterm elections began for many states on Wednesday, as numbers indicate that more and more Americans are choosing to vote early or absentee. According to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, the number of Americans choosing to vote early or absentee has almost doubled in the last 14 years. In 2016, more than half of the total votes cast in 16 states were submitted early or absentee. In New York, Ed Kilgore explains why early voting is appealing to campaigns: “The strategic importance of early voting is obvious once you think about it: voter appeals (whether it’s ads, direct mail, door-to-door canvassing, or emails and social media organizing) must take into account the wildly varying ‘Election Days’ that specific voters choose.” PRRIrecently examined voter engagement ahead of the 2018 elections and found that many people are still undecided about whether they will vote at all. According to the new data,“More than half (55 percent) of Americans report that they are absolutely certain to vote, and an additional 16 percent say they will probably vote. About one-quarter (27 percent) put their odds of voting at 50-50 or less, including 12 percent who say they are definitely not voting.”
David Brooks: There is a Rich, White Civil War
On Wednesday, David Brooks of The New York Times examined a recent report, called “Hidden Tribes,” that divides Americans into seven different groups. At the two extremes are “Devoted Conservatives” and “Progressive Activists.” These are groups that each represent 8 percent of Americans, and are also likely to be affluent, white, and college-educated. Brooks’ major takeaway from the report is that its findings indicate a “rich, white civil war.” He writes, “People with more stresses in their lives necessarily pay less attention to politics. People with college degrees are more likely to describe their ideology as central to their identity. They are much more likely to derive moral meaning from their label, more likely to affiliate with a herd based on their label and more likely to vote on the party line.”
FiveThirtyEight Writer Thinks Young People May Surprise at the Polls
“The question on many Democrats’ minds is: Will young people turn out to vote in 2018? Recent survey data has liberals worried,” writes Geoffrey Skelley at FiveThirtyEight. Skelley examines a recent PRRI/The Atlantic survey, as well as other polls indicating that youth turnout may be lower than expected, but argues that youth turnout rates may still be consistent with historical trends in midterm elections, if not higher. Skelley notes that “the midterm electorate is also generally older and whiter than it is in presidential years,” which creates structural barriers for Democratic Party campaign officials. Pointing to higher youth turnout in last year’s Virginia gubernatorial race, combined with data from the Harvard Institute of Politics indicating that 18- to 29-year-olds appear be more interested in voting, Skelley theorizes that if young voters do turn out in record numbers, they may be motivated by disapproval of the president.
Kavanaugh Hearing Illuminates Divides Between Republican and Democrat Women
Throughout the confirmation process for Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who was publicly accused of sexual assault or misconduct by several women before he was confirmed to the Supreme Court, women of the Republican and Democratic parties played a central role in the ensuing national debate about sexual assault allegations and the #MeToo movement. Writing at the The New York Times, Susan Chira examines why some Republican women rallied against Kavanaugh’s accuser, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. Chira uses PRRI data to show the deep divide between Democrat and Republican women on these issues. “A nationally representative survey by [PRRI] conducted at the end of the summer found wide gaps between Republican and Democratic women,” Chira writes. “Twenty-five percent of Republican women considered sexual harassment in the workplace a critical issue, compared to 51 percent of Democratic women. And 48 percent of Republican women would consider voting for a candidate accused of sexual harassment; 14 percent of Democratic women would.”
Will Young People Turn Out in Texas?
Over the last several months, Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) have been battling it out over Cruz’s Senate seat in what may be the year’s most written about election. With November 6th drawing closer, both candidates are banking on youth turnout to put them over the top. Stella Rouse, a PRRI public fellow and University of Maryland political scientist, tells the The Dallas Morning News that younger American voters “are particularly cynical about political parties.” A recent PRRI survey found that young people don’t always feel that voting is the best way to bring about social change. PRRI found that 50 percent of young Americans (age 18-29) agree that voting is the most effective method for bringing about change, which is 14 points lower than among the general public.