California will likely see its lowest voter turnout in the modern era this election day, according to the results of a new Field Poll released Tuesday.
The poll also found that a record number of California voters will cast their ballot by mail, and that several key population groups in the state will be either over or underrepresented at the polls.
According to projections, just 46.1%, or 8.2 million of 17.8 million registered voters will turn out to vote on Tuesday, the lowest percentage in California’s history for both midterm and presidential elections. Furthermore, the 8.2 million people projected to vote represent just 33.8% of the state’s 24.3 million adults who are eligible to vote, but may not be registered on the voter rolls.
For comparison, the percentage of voter turnout in California during a general election has not dropped below 50% since 1960. The lowest voter turnout percentage in the state’s history to this point occurred in the 2002 midterm election, when just 50.6% of registered voters in California cast ballots.
Despite the dismal voter turnout projection, the poll found that a record number of voters will likely cast their ballots by mail. According to the data, 60% of the 8.2 million projected voters will send their ballot by mail, the highest percentage in state history.
The percentage of ballots cast by mail has increased steadily since 2000, when just 24.6% of voters did so. The 2012 election represented the first time that a majority of registered voters cast their ballots by mail, and that trend is likely to continue for the foreseeable future, according to the data.
Among the most significant findings of the poll is that several key demographic groups in the state will either be over or underrepresented at the ballot boxes. Democrats hold a 15-point advantage in statewide voter registration. However, that advantage will shrink to nine points among those actually projected to vote.
Additionally, 49% of California’s registered voters are 50 years of age and older; yet a whopping 59%, or six in ten, projected voters this year will be 50 years of age and older, a major overrepresentation at the polls.
On the other hand, 24% of the state’s registered voters are Latino, yet just 16% are projected to vote, according to the data. White non-Hispanics, who account for 59% of the state’s registered voters, are expected to represent a full 70% of all projected voters on Tuesday.