In recent years, the other period has attracted more attention. This is the period we are in right now, where people in various states have already started voting, but voting information is limited. But because it’s a big deal, people like to pore over who voted, digging into the numbers like mall psychics hand out a drained cup of tea.
In many states, what is provided publicly is the party registration of those who vote, which gives a potentially misleading picture of where things are headed: it’s not because Democrats are voting more before the day of the ballot, for example, that this lead will hold – or that they vote for the Democrats. In Georgia, however, the data is more interesting, including breakdowns by race, age and gender that allow us to compare with a bit more insight where we are in this critical election cycle in that state compared to previous years.
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For this analysis, we decided to compare 2022 turnout to the two previous federal elections in the state (those in 2018 and 2020) – but considering only those who are still registered to vote. In other words, we’re not just looking at who voted in 2018 versus 2022, but we’re looking at those who are currently registered and have voted at this point in that year.
The first thing that stands out is that the number of early votes so far this year is much higher than in 2018 but lower than in 2020. Also note: far fewer mail-in votes. In 2018, 15% of early votes for this group of voters were cast by mail. In 2020, thanks to the pandemic, 43% were. This year, it has fallen to 9%.
There are also strong demographic differences. The percentage of early votes cast at this point in 2020, for example, included a higher percentage of women. This year, the gender breakdown looks more like 2018.
In 2018, however, the voter pool so far was more heavily white than it is this year. Again, this is an assessment of registered voters in 2022 who also voted in 2018. It can therefore be said that the increase in votes cast among black voters compared to 2018 is greater than the increase votes cast among white voters.
The current vote pool also came from a much older group of voters. This metric is interesting since all of these voters have necessarily aged since 2018. Some of those who were “50 to 64 years old” in 2018 are now “65 and over”. But the sharp increase in the percentage of older voters (from 36% of the total at this point in 2020 to 45% now) is remarkable.
What does this tell us? Well, that tells us that those who have voted so far are more like 2018 than 2020 in a big way. Importantly, given this year’s political discussion, the percentage of those who voted now is not more heavily comprised of women than in 2020 or 2018. Young voters’ percentage of votes is down from this point two years ago.
Again, though, we’re assessing the election with about as much clarity as discussing a race on TV when only 2% of constituencies are reporting. As with those mall tea leaves, it will be easier to come up with a convincing explanation for them once we actually know what happened.
Lenny Bronner contributed to this report.