Who is voting early in Utah? The number of younger and infrequent voters is up significantly this year

More than half a million Utahns have already cast a ballot in the 2018 election. That number is up 182% over the same time during the 2014 midterm elections.

Those numbers come from TargetEarly, a Democratic political data firm. Their figures say the 2018 early vote in Utah as of Friday was 530,209. At the same time in 2014, 187,920 Utahns had cast an early vote. Most of that jump is likely Utah’s move to vote by mail for most counties in 2016.

While it’s difficult to predict how early voting will affect the outcomes on election day, you can get a sense of voter enthusiasm, and which groups may drive the election. For instance, in Utah, we’re seeing a surge in voting across all partisan categories, but younger people are increasing their participation as are voters who don’t regularly hit the polls.

TargetEarly estimates the biggest jump among early voters is among Republicans, which makes sense as Utah is a primarily GOP-leaning state. The firm uses a proprietary predictive model to determine the likely partisan affiliation of a voter, but they’re careful to stress that partisan leaning does not predict how a person will vote.

  • Early voting among Republicans is up 159% from 2014. However, the total share of the early vote made up of GOP voters is down 4.6% from 2014.
  • Early voting among Democrats is up 278% over their 2014 totals. The total share of Democrats in the early vote is up 3.71% over 2014.
  • 175% more unaffiliated voters have cast their ballots early than 4 years ago. Unaffiliated voters make up 1.65% less of the total early vote than they did in 2014.
  • Members of other political parties voting early are up a whopping 611% over 2014.

Where are those votes coming from? The map below shows that most of the Democratic and unaffiliated votes are centered in Salt Lake, Weber and Davis counties, while Republicans make up the bulk of the rest of the state.

20181104 Target Smart Map 01

The number of younger voters who have already cast a ballot is already much higher than 2014. However, elderly Utahns make up the lion’s share of the total early vote in the state.

  • Early votes from Utahns aged 18-29 is up nearly 500% from 2014. That same age cohort’s percentage of the total early vote this year is 8.99%, which is 4.27% higher than 2014.
  • Utahns 30-39 who have voted early is up 346% this year. That group makes up 12.26% of the total early vote so far, which is up 4.5% over 2014.
  • Utahns aged 40-49 have increased their rate of early voting 297% over 2014. They make up about 10% of the total early vote so far, which is up 4% from the 2014 midterms.
  • The early vote among Utahns between 50-64 has grown 151% from 2014 totals. This group makes up 28.34% of the total early vote, which is down 3.48% from 2014.
  • The number of voters over the age of 65 who have voted early this year is up 121% over 2014, but their share of the total early vote has dropped nearly 10% since 2014.

The estimates from TargetEarly show that less-educated voters have cast early ballots at a much higher rate than other Utahns.

  • The number of Utahns who have a high school diploma or less education who have already voted is up 12.3% over 2014.
  • Utahns with a college education or higher is down 8% below their 2014 levels.

Utah’s move to vote-by-mail is seemingly prompting more infrequent and first-time voters to cast a ballot. TargetEarly looked at the voting history of those who have already cast an early ballot.

  • The number of “infrequent” voters who have already voted is up 387% over 2014. TargetEarly says this group has voted at least once, but is in the bottom 40% of voters.
  • 17,720 first-time voters in Utah have cast a ballot so far. That is a 178% increase over 2014. This group has no history of casting a ballot since at least 2000.
  • Frequent voters have increased their early vote 261% over the same time in 2014.
  • The number of “super” voters is up 90% over the same period in 2014. TargetEarly describes this group as the top 20% of voters based on their history.