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Black turnout dropped sharply in 2022 midterms, Census survey finds

Turnout in last year’s midterm elections fell from a century-high point of 50 percent in 2018 to 46.6 percent in 2022, and census data released Tuesday suggest the drop was concentrated among Black voters, younger voters and college graduates.

Black voter turnout dropped by nearly 10 percentage points, from 51.7 percent in 2018 to 42 percent in 2022, according to a Washington Post analysis of the Census Bureau’s turnout survey. White voter turnout slipped by only 1.5 points to 53.4 percent. The 11-point turnout gap between White and Black voters is the largest in any presidential or midterm election since at least 2000.

Turnout dropped by 5.4 points among Hispanic voters to 31 percent and by 5.5 points among Asian and Pacific Islander voters to 33 percent. Nonetheless, turnout among both groups was much higher than midterm elections before 2018. Turnout among American Indian and Alaska Native voters dipped 2.1 points to 32 percent.

The decline in Black turnout may have hurt Democratic candidates in some midterm contests, according Michael McDonald, a turnout expert and University of Florida Associate Professor. McDonald said lower-than-expected turnout in Milwaukee “likely cost the Democrats the Wisconsin Senate seat and could have made some other races much closer than what they appeared to be, for example Florida.”

Black turnout also declined in Georgia, according to voter file data, but Black voters helped re-elect Sen. Raphael Warnock to a full, six-year term in Georgia, with network exit polls finding more than 9 in 10 supported the Democrat.

Turnout also dropped sharply among voters under age 30, falling from 32 percent in 2018 to 26 percent in 2022, a 6.5-point drop, though turnout was significantly higher than any midterm election from 2002-2014. Turnout also dropped among voters in their 30s and 40s, but voters ages 50 saw less of a dip. A 65 percent majority of seniors cast ballots in 2022, falling less than one point from 2018.

Americans with more formal education consistently vote at higher rates, but 2022 saw a sharper drop among college graduates. The Post’s analysis finds turnout dropped 5.7 points among those with bachelor’s degrees and 5.8 points among people with postgraduate degrees in 2022, along with a 5-point drop among those with some college education. Turnout was lowest among those with a high school education or less (32 percent), but that marked a smaller 2.7-point drop from four years earlier.

Turnout sagged among college-educated voters across racial and ethnic lines, though it was particularly large among Black college graduates, dropping from 73 percent in 2018 to 60 percent in 2022. Turnout among Hispanic college graduates dropped nine points, to 53 percent, and by four points among White college grads, to 70 percent.

The Census turnout survey found women turned out at a slightly higher rate than men (48 percent vs. 46 percent), but turnout among women was down by 4.7 points from four years before, compared with a smaller 2.8-point drop among men.

About this story

This story is based on a Washington Post analysis of 2000-2022 data from the Current Population Survey Voting and Registration Supplement, which is conducted after each even-year election by the Census Bureau. Because the survey significantly overestimates turnout rates, the data were adjusted to match state-level turnout levels among the voting-eligible population according to estimates by the United States Elections Project using a method proposed by Aram Hur and Christopher H. Achen.

This article was originally published here.