I have seen that in the 2018 midterms, the turnout rose from the elections in 2014. Though the increase was across the board, some governor's races had higher increases than the national increase from 2014 of about 30 percent for Congress. In Minnesota and California (and California in particular), turnout surged on both sides, and especially for the Democratic candidate.

The most stunning statistic to me is the governor's opponent in California (John Cox) got more votes than Donald Trump did and he still lost by a greater margin than the previous Republican candidate. In Minnesota, the governor got 1.39 million, slightly more than Hillary Clinton but fewer than Obama. The previous one got 0.99 million. What caused this turnout surge in those two states? I believe it is related to the fact that both states haven't had three consecutive Democratic gubernatorial terms. I also think it was a mass preemptive measure to keep the governorship under Democratic control. Is that possible? Just wondering.

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    "... Some governor's races had higher increases than the national increase from 2014 of about 30 percent for Congress."- it's not clear why this comparison makes sense. It's simple mathematics that some places will have higher turnout than average, so why conclude that the governor-vs-congress distinction is a meaningful one? Is there evidence that more votes were cast for governor than for congress in specific places? Commented Apr 17, 2020 at 17:56
  • Because I was comparing it to a national average. No, but relative to 2014. Commented Apr 17, 2020 at 18:14
  • Across the country, there were disproportionately more Democratic votes from 2018 than in 2014. Democratic votes increased by 56% against 2014, and Republican votes increased 33%. Commented Apr 18, 2020 at 16:10
  • Comparisons to Hillary Clinton aren't really the best measure, since there were a lot of people who simply did not like her. Also note that Republican voter percentage has decreased, and that there are a lot of independent voters. "...the share of Republicans (23.6%) has declined (from 28.0%). The share who say they are independent ... has been increasing and is now 28.3%, up from 23.6% in 2015": ppic.org/publication/california-voter-and-party-profiles
    – jamesqf
    Commented Apr 18, 2020 at 16:51
  • I understand your point, but I just used that one because it was a presidential year. Nationally, she got almost exactly the same as Obama in 2012 (-0.1%). Commented Apr 18, 2020 at 18:25

1 Answer 1


The midterm election after a presidential election generally shows a surge from voters of the opposite party (at least for the last 30 or 40 years). 2018 was particularly pronounced, because the Trump administration is particularly radicalized, which brought a stronger response among progressives in the Democratic party. I'm not sure there's anything particularly noteworthy going on here.

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    I would doubt that the stronger response was only, or even primarily, "among progressives in the Democratic party", since there are quite a few people who object to Trump without being either Democrats or progressives.
    – jamesqf
    Commented Apr 18, 2020 at 22:17

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