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Democracy Counts 2018: National NSLVE Data

Democracy Counts 2018 cover

In the 2018 midterm elections, the average student voting rate at U.S. colleges and universities more than doubled from the last midterm elections, jumping from 19% in 2014 to 40% in 2018. Other findings from 2018 include:

  • In the 2018 midterm elections, college students turned out to vote at double the rate of the last midterm. Across all students in the study, the National Student Voting Rate (NSVR) in 2018 was 40.3 percent. Remarkably, this 2018 student turnout was closer to the NSLVE-estimated voting rate for the 2016 presidential election–51.3 percent–than to the previous midterm in 2014–19.3 percent;
     
  • According to the U.S. Elections Project, the voting rate among all Americans increased 13 percentage points in 2018 as compared to the prior midterm. By comparison, the college and university National Student Voting Rate (NSVR) rose 21 percentage points;
     
  • In 2018, the voting rates of 99 percent of campuses in the study increased from the 2014 midterms, and nearly half of all institutions saw their rate increase between 15-24 percentage points;
     
  • Women in college continued to vote at higher rates than men in 2018, with black women maintaining their position as the most active voters on campus, and Hispanic women making the largest gains;
     
  • The largest voting rate increase across racial/ethnic groups was among Hispanic students, up 22.5 percentage points and more than doubling–from 14 percent in 2014 to 36.5 percent in 2018;
     
  • While older Americans historically vote at higher rates than their younger counterparts, 2018 data showed a trend toward age parity. The turnout gap between students over 30 and those under 22 narrowed from 22.3 percentage points to 16.9 points;
     
  • There was relative consistency in voting rates between students attending two-year, four-year, public or private institutions. Women’s colleges continued to vote at the highest rates among institutional types, but two-year, four-year, public, and private institutions showed consistent upward movement between 2014 and 2018; and,
     
  • Voting gaps between disciplines persisted in 2018. Turnout among students in STEM fields, as well as those majoring in business, lag behind students studying the humanities, social sciences, and education.