Voter turnout in the upcoming midterms may be the highest in 50 years

Georgia voting
(Image credit: Jessica McGowan / Getty Images)

Turnout for the last midterm elections was embarrassingly poor, but this year, things are looking different.

As early voting surges in some states, election expert Michael McDonald told Talking Points Memo Friday he's predicting a turnout of between 45 and 50 percent of eligible voters. That would be the highest figure since at least 1970, when turnout hit 47 percent, and could possibly be the highest since 1966, when turnout was 49 percent, NPR reports.

This is a significant turnaround from the 2014 midterms, when just 36 percent of eligible voters cast ballots, the worst showing since World War II, per PBS. The 2018 upswing isn't entirely surprising, though, considering turnout was also way up in primary elections earlier this year; about 37 million people participated in House primaries, compared to 24 million four years ago, Pew Research Center reports.

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Early voting has already hit very high numbers in several states, from Georgia to Tennessee and Kansas. McDonald told TPM that the data he's seeing so far is "very unusual," especially in Georgia, where three times as many people have cast their ballots than did by this point in 2014. He added, "I've never seen anything like this."

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