Election Day 2018 ended with some surprises in South Carolina, but perhaps the biggest surprise was the turnout: It was the highest of the past three midterm elections.
That is probably not a surprise to you if you were among the many voters who waited in line for hours to cast a ballot on Election Day. Or to vote absentee in the days leading up to the election. But we can’t all be surprised, because then none of us would’ve been in those lines and then it wouldn’t be high turnout and then there wouldn’t be anything to be surprised about, and ... well, you see where we’re going.
You do have to consider midterm totals differently from those of presidential election years because, for some reason, more people want to vote for president than they do for their congressional and senatorial representatives. We have never really understood that, because hello, does separation of powers sound familiar? It’s a thing, y’all. Checks and balances.
Anyway, Election Day earlier this week saw a 54.8% voter turnout statewide, according to the S.C. Election Commission. That’s a 25.1% increase in voter participation compared with the last midterm election in 2014, when 43.8% of registered voters cast ballots in the Palmetto State.
We checked historic and current Election Day data with the S.C. Election Commission and came up with a few other interesting comparisons.
(The caveat is that these numbers account only for registered voters and do not include those folks eligible to register who have not gotten around to it. Ahem. But we digress, again. Onward to the data!)
Presidential races bring out more voters
South Carolina isn’t different from other states, but there was a drop of about 20% in voter turnout statewide from 2016 to 2018. (S.C. voter turnout; presidential years in bold)
Lowcountry voters turned out in 2018
Regardless of why people came out to vote, 31% more voters cast ballots in the tri-county area on Election Day compared with in the previous midterm election. The largest increase was seen in Charleston County, where 35.1% more voters turned out compared with 2014.
Largest S.C. voter turnout in 2018
Despite the increase in participation in the Lowcountry from 2014 to 2018, the tri-county was in the lower half of the state for turnout. McCormick County voters cast the highest percentage of ballots in Tuesday’s general election than voters in any of the state’s 45 other counties.
Among the top 10 counties in the Palmetto State, voter turnout was well over 55% — and above 61% in four counties. Charleston County ranked No. 33, Berkeley County was 34th and Dorchester County, with its 51.42%, ranked No. 41. Still, though, when the lowest percentage in the state is nearly half the registered voters (looking at you, Dillon, with your 44.8%), that’s a notable turnout for a midterm.