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Let these bleak voter turnout maps remind you that “nobody” could win the 2018 midterms elections

Let these bleak voter turnout maps remind you that “nobody” could win the 2018 midterms elections
[Screenshot: Esri]

Hello, voter. Were you unhappy with how the 2016 presidential election turned out? Perhaps you were surprised that Donald Trump won the election, even though Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by a wide margin?

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If so, it might interest you to know that the real winner that night was neither Trump nor Clinton but voter apathy, as millions of eligible voters simply decided to sit the election out.

In a series of interactive maps, cartographer Philip Kearney looked at the impact of non-voters in the 2016 election, showing how their distribution throughout voting districts affected outcomes in their respective states and, ultimately, the electoral college results. Kearney imagined what would have happened if these non-voters were an actual candidate named “Nobody,” and as it turns out, that imaginary candidate would have handily beat both Trump and Clinton two years ago.

“Nobody would have overwhelmingly dominated the Electoral College, with 445 out of 538 electoral votes,” Kearney writes in a map story powered by Esri.

The sad thing, of course, is that this was an easily avoidable problem. Citing Pew Research data, Kearney points out that a quarter of non-voters said they simply chose to stay home that day out of dissatisfaction with either candidate, but as we’ve seen over the last two years–as the Trump administration has turned his rhetoric into actual policy–who you vote for matters, whether you’re satisfied with the candidates or not.

All of which is a way of saying to let these bleak voter-turnout maps serve as a reminder to get out and vote in the midterms on November 6. There is a lot of encouraging data to suggest that participation will be off the charts on Tuesday, including one study predicting the highest voter turnout for a midterm race since the mid-1960s.

But such studies won’t come to fruition if people get lazy and stay home, so don’t get complacent. Unless, that is, you want to keep letting Nobody call the shots.

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