Turnout in Minnesota, Wisconsin primaries surges to two-decade highs

Democrats are hoping to replicate successes seen around the nation throughout the past 18 months in local and state special elections

Minnesota: Voter engagement in the 2018 US midterm races remains feverish, primaries in notable swing states Wisconsin and Minnesota showed on Tuesday.


Both states showed sharp increases in participation as voters picked candidates for Congress, Senate and governor, with Minnesota’s turnout surpassing a two-decade high and Wisconsin’s hitting levels not reached for a state primary since at least 2002. Democrats are hoping to replicate successes seen around the nation throughout the past 18 months in local and state special elections, where high levels of enthusiasm have propelled them to victories in races from Alabama’s Senate seat in December to a southwest Pennsylvania congressional district in March.

The party is desperately seeking to flip control of Congress and capture more statehouses across the nation, as Republicans have control of both houses of Congress and the majority of state legislatures.

In Minnesota, more than 900,000 voters turned out in a state known for high levels of voter engagement, according to unofficial state figures on Wednesday. That equals a turnout rate of roughly 22 per cent, according to Minnesota’s secretary of state. It was also the highest for state primary nominating contests since 1994, not including presidential primaries, according to state data. More than 580,000 people voted on the Democratic side.

In Wisconsin, nearly one million voters cast ballots, or about 22 per cent of the voting-age population, surpassing the 14 per cent rate posted in both 2016 and 2014, according to a spokesman for the Wisconsin Elections Commission. That is the highest since a 22.5 per cent turnout rate in 2002, but the official figure could still exceed that when all votes are counted. Turnout was strong in Democratic strongholds such as Madison, the state capital, and the largest city, Milwaukee, but also in Republican suburbs around Milwaukee.

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