Massive early voting numbers point to record turnout for midterms

  • More than 35 million votes have already been cast in early voting nationwide, NBC News' Data Analytics Lab finds using voter file data from TargetSmart.
  • That figure easily eclipses the total in 2014, when fewer than 20 million early votes were counted on the day before the midterms.
  • Politicians of both major parties frame the midterms as a decisive inflection point on the direction of the country under President Donald Trump.
People vote at outdoor booths during early voting for the mid-term elections in Pasadena, California on November 3, 2018. 
Mark Ralston | AFP | Getty Images
People vote at outdoor booths during early voting for the mid-term elections in Pasadena, California on November 3, 2018. 

Early voters are poised to make history.

With just one day to go until hundreds of politicians face off in the midterm elections, more than 35 million votes have already been cast in early voting nationwide.

That figure, found Monday by NBC News' Data Analytics Lab using voter file data from TargetSmart, easily eclipses the total in 2014, when fewer than 20 million early votes were counted on the day before the midterms.

"We're well beyond historic midterms now," said Bryon Allen, chief research officer at political consulting firm WPA Intelligence.

But despite recent surveys indicating that a surge of young voter participation will carry the day for Democrats, TargetSmart's data from states with early voting suggest that the tallies so far have been virtually split between the two major parties. As of Monday, 42 percent of early voters are Republicans, compared with 41 percent of Democrats and 17 percent with another party affiliation, NBC found.

The 2018 early vote totals still don't quite compare with those on the eve of the 2016 presidential election, when more than 46 million early votes were counted. But the still-palpable enthusiasm to vote comes as politicians of both major parties frame the midterms as a decisive inflection point on the direction of the country under President Donald Trump.

"He was a primary factor," said John Della Volpe, director of polling at Harvard Kennedy School's Institute of Politics. "One of the legacies of the first term of the Trump presidency is that he has galvanized and inspired millions of young Americans to participate in politics and civic life in ways few people have considered before."

In a recent survey conducted by the institute, 40 percent of 18- to 29-year-old Americans said they will definitely vote in the midterms. Asked about the slim Republican edge in TargetSmart's early voting totals, Della Volpe noted that "older Americans tend to vote early and absentee, and they're more likely to support the president."

The data also show women outvoting men in key states' early voting totals, a pattern consistent across the past two biennial election cycles in 2016 and 2014.