Politics

The Largest Congressional District, Montana’s, Also Had the Highest Turnout

In contrast, California’s 21st District saw fewest number of voters show up

Rep. Greg Gianforte, R-Mont., won a first full-term representing Montana’s at-large district, defeating Democratic opponent Kathleen Williams by 5 points. Above, the two talk at the Crow Fair in Crow Agency, Mont., on Aug. 18. Rep. Bruce Westerman, R-Ark., appears at left. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The turnout for the midterm elections was the highest — 49 percent of those eligible to cast ballots did — since 1914, according to the United States Election Project.

But the enthusiasm was not evenly spread. The number of votes cast in some House districts was much higher than others and it did not depend on the competitiveness of the races.

Based on CNN’s most recent tally of votes, the most ballots were cast in Montana’s at-large race, a competitive seat that pitted Republican incumbent Greg Gianforte against Democrat Kathleen Williams. Gianforte, who’d won a special election last year to fill the seat previously held by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, won a first full term, 51 percent to 46 percent.

Nearly a half-million Montanans voted. That was about 85,000 more than voted in the House district with the next-biggest turnout — for the seat representing Boulder, Colorado, and environs, that Jared Polis is vacating. Another Democrat, Joe Neguse, won the race with ease, defeating Republican Peter Yu by collecting 259,605 of the 404,506 votes cast. Voters in Colorado’s 2nd District can claim bragging points by noting that Montana’s district has the largest population of any in the country at 1,050,493, while Colorado’s 2nd has a more typical 799,734.

And other districts where fewer people voted may well be able to boast of a higher turnout rate, since the size of districts varies considerably, with Rhode Island’s 2nd being the smallest, with a population of just 520,389.

CQ-VOTES

The next three largest turnouts were also in noncompetitive races. Democrat Pramila Jayapal won a second term in the Seattle-based 7th District, and Republicans John Rutherford and Daniel Webster won new terms in Florida’s 4th and 11th districts, respectively. 

On the other side of the ledger, one of the most competitive House races also had the lowest turnout. That was in California’s Central Valley, where Democrat TJ Cox was narrowly ahead of incumbent Republican David Valadao in a race The Associated Press had still not called as of Monday evening. Only about 113,000 voters showed up. At of Monday evening, Cox was leading Valadao by 820 votes. 

The next four lowest-turnout races, exempting those where incumbents ran unopposed, occurred in safe Democratic seats.

Grace Meng got a fourth term in her district in north Queens, New York Lucille Roybal-Allard won a 14th term representing east Los Angeles. Ruben Gallego got a third term in Phoenix and Jim Costa won his eighth in a district just north of Valadao’s in California’s Central Valley.

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