The likely electorate is more polarized than the public. ... Although overall turnout among the public is likely to be around 40%, 73% of those who hold consistently conservative attitudes are likely to vote in the midterm, as are 52% of those with mostly conservative views. As other surveys have found, voters on the left are less politically engaged in this election: 58% of those with consistently liberal views and just 32% of those with mostly liberal attitudes are likely to turn out. And among those with about an equal mix of conservative and liberal attitudes, just 25% are likely to go to the polls.
Those who are consistently conservative and liberal, who together make up only about one-in-five (22%) in the general public, make up 36% of those most likely to vote. By contrast, those with mixed opinions will be only 24% of the electorate, although they constitute 39% of the general public. (Click here for details about how ideological consistency is measured.)
Hostility toward the opposing party is a key marker of polarization and a strong motivator for voting, especially among Republicans. Both Republicans and Democrats have long held negative views of the opposite party. But the level of partisan hostility has grown dramatically in the past 20 years. The new panel survey finds a strong link between having a highly negative reaction to the opposing party and likelihood of turning out to vote, particularly among Republicans.
Who voted in the primaries? Highest reported rate: consistent conservatives. Primaries often hold the key to the general election, in that they determine the choices available to voters. Is there polarization there? Absolutely. We find that 64% of consistent conservatives reported voting in a primary election this year, compared with 49% of consistent liberals. The self-reported turnout numbers are lower among those with ‘mostly’ conservative or liberal views, though the pattern of higher turnout on the right remains, with 46 percent of ‘mostly conservative’ voters having cast a primary ballot and 30 percent of ‘mostly liberal’ voters.