2016 blue and red voter turn out

President* Trump,

I ended up nerding out some more on the voter turn out numbers, but only for the 2016 election so it could have been worse. I told you the other day that I might see what I could see about turn out in blue states and red states relative to swing states, but before telling you what I found, I need to slightly correct the swing/non-swing state buckets. I found a website closer to the actual voting time that had Oregon listed as a blue state rather than as a swing state so once that switch was made the 2016 voter turn out numbers were as follows:

2016 ~ Swing states 64.4%; Non-swing states 59.2% (-5.2%)

This made no real difference, but I couldn’t not correct it.

And just to be clear, while I’m doing my best to accurately and fairly represent the data, I wouldn’t want to send this out for peer review as is – it would need at least two more people independently seeing if they got the same numbers as me before it would be ready for that kind of scrutiny. Plus, it’s probably stuff that political science types sorted out long ago, so really, it’s mostly functioning to keep me occupied and distracted.

Ok, with the preamble out of the way, I’ll tell you what I did and then what I found.

First, I cross-referenced my original swing state map and the October 538 take on which of the non-swing states were blue and which were red leading up to the 2016 election. I then placed each set in its own excel worksheet and got the average voter turn out rates among the Voter Eligible Population (VEP) Highest Office, the total number of votes cast in the Highest Office (HO) race, and the total number of VEPs. Now I’ll just show you the math since it’ll be easier than writing it out in text.

Voter turn out in 15 swing states = 64.4%
Voter turn out in the 15 blue states = 61.9% (difference 2.5%)
Voter turn out in the 20 red states = 57.3% (difference 7.1%)

Blue: 78,135,270VEP – 47,147,649HO = 30,987,621 x .025 = 774,690 additional votes
Red: 63,755,375VEP – 35,344,174HO = 28,411,201 x .071 = 2,017,195 additional votes

I’m not exactly thrilled with how the numbers turned out. When I started down this rabbit hole I figured that because the blue states were so much more populous than the red states we’d likely see more votes left on the table for blue than for red states. What I didn’t anticipate at all was that there would be a marked difference in voter turn out across blue and red states that would end up translating into a lot larger difference in voter turn out between each set and the swing states. So if voting in swing states approximates the turn out we’d see if we got rid of the Electoral College, it looks like more than twice as many eligible voters in red states as blue states would vote.

Now of course that doesn’t mean all those would-be eligible voters would cast votes in line with the hue of their state, but it’s kind of interesting, and a little bit scary, that these numbers suggest that the EC may well be suppressing more of the vote in red states than in blue states. Before you get too excited, I suggest you have someone who knows how to crunch numbers check my math for 2016 and that they take a look at previous general elections to see if this pattern holds up.

And, I still think we need to abolish the EC and let the people decide our president. 

May we be safe from disenfranchisement.
May we all be willing to vote.
May we strengthen the health of our democracy by weighting all votes equally.
May we accept that the Constitution needs some serious help.

Tracy Simpson

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