With the 2018 midterm elections just a month out, newly analyzed data might provide a picture of who will be showing up to the polls.
The new research from the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) Center for Public Affairs Research (CPAR) shows young voters in Douglas and Sarpy County, Nebraska, voted at lower levels than their national peer groups in recent general and primary elections.
The analysis is the first comprehensive look at recent Omaha-area voter turnout by age. CPAR researchers acquired the data from the Nebraska Secretary of State’s office. National averages used for comparison come from the U.S. Census Bureau.
The data show Omaha-area residents in the 18- to 29-year-old and 30- to 44-year-old age brackets tended to vote at lower rates than those in the same age groups nationwide, while those 65 and older voted at a higher rate than national peers.
For example, in the 2014 midterm elections, 14 percent of 18- to 29-year-old eligible voters in Douglas and Sarpy County voted compared to 20 percent in the same age group nationwide. Similarly, 27 percent of local 30- to 44-year-old eligible voters voted compared to 35 percent nationwide.
By contrast, older Omaha-area residents were slightly more likely to vote than national peers in the 2014 midterms, with 60 percent of those 65 or older voting compared to 57 percent nationwide.
“If these past elections are any guide for 2018, we might expect low voter turnout among young people again, but I hope not,” said Josie Schafer, director of the Center for Public Affairs Research. “The numbers show we have work to do encouraging an additional 96,814 or so young people in Douglas and Sarpy County to exercise their constitutional rights to vote.”
Among other takeaways from the report:
- In 2014 and 2016, voter turnout varied across Douglas and Sarpy County; the lowest voter turnout rates were along the east end of both counties.
- Lower voter turnout correlates with lower education, income, and percent of population that identify as black or Hispanic.
- Although area young voters are less likely to vote than national peers, Douglas and Sarpy counties’ overall voter turnout rates are similar to overall national rates.
About the University of Nebraska at Omaha
Located in one of America’s best cities to live, work and learn, the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) is Nebraska’s premier metropolitan university. With more than 15,000 students enrolled in 200-plus programs of study, UNO is recognized nationally for its online education, graduate education, military friendliness and community engagement efforts. Founded in 1908, UNO has served learners of all backgrounds for more than 100 years and is dedicated to another century of excellence both in the classroom and in the community.