States With the Highest (and Lowest) Voter Turnout

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Ocean City, New Jersey
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26. New Jersey
> Voter turnout: 63.5%
> 2012 winning candidate’s party: Democrat
> Pct. with bachelor’s degree: 37.6%
> Pct. workers paid hourly: 42.0%

Compared to the average American, New Jersey residents are more educated and also wealthier. The average weekly wage in the state of more than $1,000 is well above the national average wage. Also, 37.4% of adults have at least a bachelor’s degree, higher than the national attainment rate of 30.1%. While more educated, more affluent individuals are the most likely to cast a vote in presidential elections, the average voter turnout rate in New Jersey of 63.5% is just in line with the national turnout rate.

Of the eligible voters who did not participate in the most recent midterm election, 28.9% cited work or school schedule conflicts as their reason for not voting, similar to the national share of respondents who said the same.

Charleston, South Carolina
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27. South Carolina
> Voter turnout: 63.5%
> 2012 winning candidate’s party: Republican
> Pct. with bachelor’s degree: 26.8%
> Pct. workers paid hourly: 56.1%

South Carolina is a Republican stronghold, and a Republican candidate has won the state in each of the past four presidential elections.

South Carolina was one of the states hit hardest by the Great Recession. In the 2006 midterm election, voter turnout among the state’s unemployed workers was just 25.4%. By the 2010 election, when unemployment peaked in the state, the unemployed voter turnout rate was 41.2%. A similar increase occurred in the state’s presidential elections, from a 49.1% unemployed turnout rate in 2008 to 65.5% in 2012.

Hartford, Connecticut dusk
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28. Connecticut
> Voter turnout: 63.3%
> 2012 winning candidate’s party: Democrat
> Pct. with bachelor’s degree: 38.3%
> Pct. workers paid hourly: 50.7%

Voter turnout in Connecticut is not especially high. An average of only 63.3% of eligible voters turned out to vote in the last four presidential elections, only a slightly larger share than the 62.2% of eligible Americans who did.

Roughly one-quarter of survey respondents who failed to cast a ballot in the 2014 midterm elections claimed that they neglected to vote because they thought their vote would not make a difference. A solidly blue state, a Republican has not won Connecticut since Bush in 1988. Additionally, in each of the last four presidential elections, the Democratic presidential candidate won by at least 10 percentage points in the state.

Cheyenne, Wyoming
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29. Wyoming
> Voter turnout: 63.2%
> 2012 winning candidate’s party: Republican
> Pct. with bachelor’s degree: 26.2%
> Pct. workers paid hourly: 61.0%

Wyoming is one of the most clearly conservative states in the country. In each of the past four presidential elections, a Republican earned at least 64.8% of the votes. In 2012, Romney won 68.6% of the votes, a higher margin of victory for the candidate in every state but Utah.

While Wyoming’s presidential elections appear to be less competitive than in other states, this does not seem to curb political participation. In a survey distributed to those who did not vote, a lower share of respondents claimed political apathy — the feeling that their vote wouldn’t make a difference — as the reason for not going to the polls.

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Wichita, Kansas
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30. Kansas
> Voter turnout: 63.1%
> 2012 winning candidate’s party: Republican
> Pct. with bachelor’s degree: 31.7%
> Pct. workers paid hourly: 55.3%

Over the last four presidential elections, voter turnout in Kansas peaked in 2004, when 64.2% of the electorate made it to the polls. Over the same four elections, average voter turnout in Kansas has been roughly line with the national average of 62.2%. In a survey distributed to those who did not vote in the most recent election, a bulk of respondents claimed disliking the candidates or being too busy with work or school as reasons for not going to the polls.