The 2020 presidential campaign is already well underway, and the broad field of candidates are dominating the media. But will all the hype translate into votes next November?

There are several indicators to suggest that turnout for the general election next year could be the highest in a generation, if not a century. Here’s a sneak peek of what voter turnout might look like in 2020, and some of the factors that contribute to it.

Voter Enthusiasm

Although the next election is more than a year away, voters in both parties are already highly engaged with the race and its candidates. The enthusiasm level far outpaces previous election years among both Democrats and Republicans, according to a recent report from the American Enterprise Institute.

According to the report, an April 2019 Fox News survey found that 52 percent of respondents were “extremely interested” in the presidential election — by far the highest since the survey began in 2008. The 2016 and 2012 elections did not see that level of interest until the final days before the polls opened.

Interest was about even among Democrats and Republicans, with 56 percent of Democrats saying they were “extremely interested” and 57 percent of Republicans saying the same thing. Independents lagged behind at 29 percent.

In addition, 85 percent of registered voters told ABC News/Washington Post pollsters they are absolutely certain to vote in the 2020 general election, a level usually only seen closer to Election Day.

Record Midterm Turnout

The 2018 midterms saw the highest turnout in any midterm election since 1914. According to the United States Elections Project, 49.3 percent of the eligible voting population voted last November. This was the highest since 1914, when 50.3 percent of the eligible population voted.

When you account for population growth and the fact that women couldn’t vote in 1914, the sheer number of voters was higher in 2018 than in 1914. By comparison, turnout in the 2014 midterms was 36.7 percent, among the lowest percentages on record.

Turnout was high across the country despite an absence of prominent races in some states. Some voters were motivated to elect Democrats to Congress, while others wanted to ensure that Republicans maintained control at the federal and state levels.

Those motivations are not going away in 2020. The momentum from 2018, combined with the high levels of enthusiasm for the presidential election could mean more big turnout numbers come November.

The Youth Vote

For the first time, Millennials outnumber Baby Boomers as the largest group of eligible voters. While turnout among young people is usually low, studies suggest that might change in 2020 as Millennials and Generation Z head to the polls.

The CIRCLE research center at Tufts University, a leading organization on youth engagement in politics and civic life, found that voter turnout was 31 percent among people ages 18-29. This marks a significant increase from the 2014 midterms when turnout among young people was 21 percent.

“Young people approached the 2018 midterms with a resolve to change the American political landscape through peer-to-peer action,” said CIRCLE director Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg.

The March for Our Lives movement last year showed the power that young people can have when it comes to influencing public opinion on a political issue. The students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School harnessed the power of social media to raise awareness about gun violence and encourage their peers to vote in the midterms.

If that momentum continues into 2020, increased turnout among young people could drive the overall voting rates higher than any presidential election in recent memory.


Grassroots Pulse covers public policy and political issues aimed at engaging highly-active policy makers, donors, and grassroots leaders at the forefront of the political process in America today.

Image credit: Photo by rob walsh on Unsplash