Voter Turnout vs Does My Vote Count

Welp, we have another election day coming up. I’ll admit I’ve been a little further removed from this election cycle than most people, for two reasons:

  1. We are undergoing a massive inspection at work tomorrow (gulp) and have been swamped preparing for it. Any thoughts or prayers for this welcome.
  2. I live in a state where most of the races are pretty lopsided.

For point #2, we have Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren currently up by 22 points, and Republican Governor Charlie Baker currently up by almost 40 points. My rep for the House of Representatives is running unopposed. The most interesting race in our state was actually two Democrats with major streets/bridges named after their families duking it out, but that got settled during the primaries. I’ll vote anyway because I actually have strong feelings about some of our ballot questions, but most of our races are the very definition of “my vote doesn’t make a difference”.

However, I still think there are interesting reasons to vote even if your own personal vote counts minimally. In an age of increasing market segmentation and use of voter files, the demographics that show they consistently vote will always be more catered to by politicians. I mentioned this a while ago in my post about college educated white women. As a group they are only 10% of the voting public, but they are one of the demographics most likely to actually vote, and thus they get more attention than others.

This shows up in some interesting ways. For example, according to Pew Research, during the election Gen Xers and younger will be the majority of eligible voters, yet will not make up the majority of actual voters:

There are race based differences as well. Black voters and white voters vote at similar rates, but Hispanic and Asian voters vote less often.  Additionally, those with more education and those who are richer tend to vote more often.  While that last link mentions that it’s not clear that extra voters would change election results, I still think it’s likely that if some groups with low turnout turned in to groups with high turnout, we may see some changes in messaging.

While this may be mixed for some people who don’t tend to vote with their demographic,  it does seem like getting on the electoral radar is probably a good thing.

So go vote Tuesday!


5 thoughts on “Voter Turnout vs Does My Vote Count

  1. Rumor has it that how _often_ you vote is not secret. If so it might make a difference in how much attention the staffer pays to your mail: which stack it gets put in. You probably have to pull more weight than that to get the candidate to read anything, unless they’re trying for local school board.

    I should check that rumor out one of these days.


    • The link I put in on voter files above had some stuff about that. They definitely can track how often you vote and it looks like there is a lot of interest in targeting things towards the consistent voters and then figuring out how to get the intermittent voters to show up.


  2. My wife researches all the local downballot candidates, so people call her the night before the election to ask her who to vote for. I think at max she controlled a dozen votes, and those likely had some downstream effect of spouses and children. I think most teachers used to ask Ginny Dumas who to vote for at CCHS.


  3. Thinking about when your vote won’t count because elections are so lopsided in your area: Two years ago I voted for Evan. My husband held his nose and gagged while voting for Trump. In the electoral college, the Washington state electors saw their vote for Hilary wouldn’t matter, so three of them voted for Colin Powell, and one for Faith Spotted Eagle.


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