Voters wait in line, socially distanced from one another, to solid early ballots on Oct. 19, 2020, in Miami, Florida. (Joe Raedle/Getty Photographs)
The US holds a presidential election each 4 years, however it’s not simply the candidates and points that change from one marketing campaign cycle to the subsequent. The voters itself is in a gradual however fixed state of flux, too.
The profile of the U.S. voters can change for quite a lot of causes. Think about the hundreds of thousands of Individuals who’ve turned 18 and may vote for president for the primary time this yr, the immigrants who’ve develop into naturalized residents and may solid ballots of their very own, or the longer-term shifts within the nation’s racial and ethnic make-up. These and different elements be sure that no two presidential electorates look precisely the identical.
So what does the 2020 voters appear like politically, demographically and religiously because the race between Republican President Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden enters its closing days? To reply that query, right here’s a roundup of latest Pew Analysis Heart findings. Except in any other case famous, all findings are based mostly on registered voters.
Round a 3rd of registered voters within the U.S. (34%) determine as independents, whereas 33% determine as Democrats and 29% determine as Republicans, in response to a Heart evaluation of Individuals’ partisan identification based mostly on surveys of greater than 12,000 registered voters in 2018 and 2019.
Most independents within the U.S. lean towards one of many two main events. When taking independents’ partisan leanings into consideration, 49% of all registered voters both determine as Democrats or lean to the occasion, whereas 44% determine as Republicans or lean to the GOP.
Celebration identification amongst registered voters hasn’t modified dramatically over the previous 25 years, however there have been some modest shifts. One such shift is that the Democratic Celebration’s benefit over the Republican Celebration in occasion identification has develop into smaller since 2017. In fact, simply because a registered voter identifies with or leans towards a specific occasion doesn’t essentially imply they may vote for a candidate of that occasion (or vote in any respect). In a research of validated voters in 2016, 5% of Democrats and Democratic leaners reported voting for Trump, and 4% of Republicans and GOP leaners reported voting for Hillary Clinton.
Race and ethnicity
Non-Hispanic White Individuals make up the most important share of registered voters within the U.S., at 69% of the overall as of 2019. Hispanic and Black registered voters every account for 11% of the overall, whereas these from different racial or ethnic backgrounds account for the rest (8%).
White voters account for a diminished share of registered voters than up to now, declining from 85% in 1996 to 69% forward of this yr’s election. This transformation has unfolded in each events, however White voters have persistently accounted for a a lot bigger share of Republican and Republican-leaning registered voters than of Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters (81% vs. 59% as of 2019).
The racial and ethnic composition of the voters appears to be like very completely different nationally than in a number of key battleground states, in response to a Heart evaluation of 2018 information based mostly on eligible voters – that’s, U.S. residents ages 18 and older, no matter whether or not or not they had been registered to vote.
White Individuals accounted for 67% of eligible voters nationally in 2018, however they represented a a lot bigger share in a number of key battlegrounds within the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic, together with Wisconsin (86%), Ohio (82%), Pennsylvania (81%) and Michigan (79%). The reverse was true in some battleground states within the West and South. For instance, the White share of eligible voters was under the nationwide common in Nevada (58%), Florida (61%) and Arizona (63%). You’ll be able to see racial and ethnic breakdown of eligible voters in all 50 states – and the way it modified between 2000 and 2018 – with this interactive characteristic.
Age and technology
The U.S. voters is getting older: 52% of registered voters are ages 50 and older, up from 41% in 1996. This shift has occurred in each partisan coalitions. Greater than half of Republican and GOP-leaning voters (56%) are ages 50 and older, up from 39% in 1996. And amongst Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters, half are 50 and older, up from 41% in 1996.
One other strategy to take into account the getting older of the voters is to have a look at median age. The median age amongst all registered voters elevated from 44 in 1996 to 50 in 2019. It rose from 43 to 52 amongst Republican registered voters and from 45 to 49 amongst Democratic registered voters.
Regardless of the long-term getting older of registered voters, 2020 marks the primary time that many members of Era Z – Individuals born after 1996 – will be capable of take part in a presidential election. One-in-ten eligible voters this yr are members of Era Z, up from simply 4% in 2016, in response to Pew Analysis Heart projections. (In fact, not all eligible voters find yourself registering and really casting a poll.)
Round two-thirds of registered voters within the U.S. (65%) don’t have a university diploma, whereas 36% do. However the share of voters with a university diploma has risen considerably since 1996, when 24% had one.
Voters who determine with the Democratic Celebration or lean towards it are more likely than their Republican counterparts to have a university diploma (41% vs. 30%). In 1996, the reverse was true: 27% of GOP voters had a university diploma, in contrast with 22% of Democratic voters.
Christians account for almost all of registered voters within the U.S. (64%). However this determine is down from 79% as lately as 2008. The share of voters who determine as religiously unaffiliated has practically doubled throughout that span, from 15% to twenty-eight%.
The share of White Christians within the voters, specifically, has decreased lately. White evangelical Protestants account for 18% of registered voters at the moment, down from 21% in 2008. Throughout the identical interval, the share of voters who’re White non-evangelical Protestants fell from 19% to 13%, whereas the share of White Catholics fell from 17% to 12%.
Round eight-in-ten Republican registered voters (79%) are Christians, in contrast with about half (52%) of Democratic voters. In flip, Democratic voters are more likely than GOP voters to determine as religiously unaffiliated (38% vs. 15%).
The important thing query: What about voter turnout?
Surveys can present dependable estimates about registered voters within the U.S. and the way their partisan, demographic and spiritual profile has modified over time. However the essential query of voter turnout – who shall be motivated to solid a poll and who won’t – is harder to reply.
For one factor, not all registered voters find yourself voting. In 2016, round 87% of registered voters solid a poll, in response to a Pew Analysis Heart evaluation of Census Bureau information shortly after that yr’s election.
Additionally, voter turnout within the U.S. isn’t a continuing: It may well and does change from one election to the subsequent. The share of registered voters who solid a poll was larger in 2008 than 4 years in the past, for instance.
Turnout additionally varies by demographic elements, together with race and ethnicity, age and gender. The turnout charge amongst Black Individuals, as an illustration, exceeded the speed amongst White Individuals for the primary time within the 2012 presidential election, however that sample didn’t maintain 4 years later.
So what does all this imply for 2020? There are some early indications that total turnout might attain a file excessive this yr, simply as turnout within the midterms two years in the past reached its highest level in a century. However 2020 is much from an unusual yr. The mix of a worldwide pandemic and public considerations in regards to the integrity of the election have created widespread uncertainty, and that uncertainty makes it much more tough than typical to evaluate who will vote and who gained’t.
John Gramlich is a senior author/editor at Pew Analysis Heart.