Qualitatively, there is no shortage of motivating factors for Republican voters. Whether sending a message to President Joe Biden and President Nancy Pelosi, or the threat of socialism, Marxism, communism, critical race theory, urban crime, immigrants undocumented, Anthony Fauci, vaccination mandates, “woke” school boards or transgender athletes, there are plenty of things that energize Republicans.

For most of this election cycle, Democrats have suffered from a lack of enthusiasm. Trump’s 2020 defeat undermined the urgency of Democratic voters, many of whom were disappointed with the way Biden and the Democratic majorities on Capitol Hill used their power. And that’s why it looked like the country was headed for a typical midterm election in which the president’s party loses a significant number of congressional seats.

But the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade galvanized Democratic voters. The Dobbs decision shifted the threat of losing access to legal abortion from hypothetical to real, and subsequent actions by Republicans at the state level to restrict all access to legal abortion were a catalyst for that Democrats are closing the enthusiasm gap with the GOP. So, again, there are two motivated parties within seven weeks of Election Day.

Quantitatively, the country is on course to break the modern record for midterm attendance just four years after setting it. For that, it is enough to be average.

Over the past century, the average turnout difference between a presidential election and the ensuing midterm election has been about 16.4 points. Thus, an average turnout drop of 66.8% in 2020 would end at 50.4% in 2022, just above the 50.1% mark in 2018.


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