Voters to Watch in 2014: The Rising American Electorate

October 30th, 2013

New VPC study reveals that unmarried women, people of color and young voters delivered victories in 2012, but more than 21 million might stay home in 2014


Candidates that can energize this bloc of voters can upend conventional wisdom during the midterms

Washington, D.C. – A new analysis of likely voters shows that the Rising American Electorate (RAE) holds the key to electoral success in 2014, according to the Voter Participation Center and pollster Celinda Lake. Mid-term elections frequently lead to a loss of power for the party in control of the White House. But the report makes clear that success for both political parties next year hinges on the RAE–made up of people of color, unmarried women and youth aged 18-29.

As was widely reported last year, strong RAE support helped re-elect President Obama in 2012.  And the Republicans in their post-election “autopsy” vowed to broaden their base and appeal to these voters.  Just this week, the Republican National Committee reminded supporters to engage with voters during the mid-terms and year-round, “especially in Hispanic, African American and Asian Pacific communities.” But the new report suggests that, unless candidates start speaking to the RAE about issues that matter most to them, the RAE drop-off rate could be substantial in 2014–with as many as 21 million voters staying home as compared to 2012.

“If candidates want to avoid a repeat of 2010, when 37 percent of RAE voters didn’t show at the polls, they need to address the pocketbook issues that matter to the RAE,” said Page Gardner, the President of the Voter Participation Center. “The question is which party is going to invest the time and effort to do that — and motivate voters to turn out on Election Day 2014.”

As the Virginia Governor’s race wraps up and voters turn their attention to 2014, recent polls show deep frustration with Washington. While the landslide victory in the presidential year offered proof of a new American majority, the question remains if those same voters will show up for the mid-terms. The stakes are high. More than 10 million unmarried women might stay home next year, in addition to 6.5 million African-Americans, 3.8 million Latinos and nearly 10 million young voters, according to the analysis by Lake Research Partners on behalf of the Voter Participation Center.

“While we always see a reduction in voter turnout during mid-terms, the differences between 2010 and 2006 were dramatic in terms of drop-off and election results,” said Celinda Lake, President of Lake Research Partners. “Next year’s results will be equally important, and participation of the RAE could determine control of the House and Senate.”

Read the full report.