2020 Sets Presidential Voter Turnout Record

November 30, 2020

This article originally appeared on BIPAC's blog. Written by BIPAC Political Analyst Jim Ellis.

Key Takeaways

  • President: Record voter turnout stats
  • NC-Sen: Two candidates set to announce for 2022
  • ’22 Senate Recruitment: NRSC targets GOP governors
  • Outstanding House Races: Latest recap
  • TX-Gov: Democrats begin to challenge Gov. Greg Abbott (R)


Voter Turnout:  Those who predicted that 2020 presidential election turnout would exceed 155 million people have now been proven correct.  According to The Green Papers statistical website, the entire voting universe in the 2020 presidential election, while still growing as states finish their canvassing process, has reached 155,043,792 voters. 

This figure represents an increase of more than 18.25 million people since the previous presidential election in 2016.  The totals represent at least a 13.3% uptick in voter participation between the two presidential years at a time the national population grew only 1.2% during the same time span.

Election Record:  There are now only two presidential candidates in United States electoral history who have received more than 70 million votes, and they are Joe Biden and Donald Trump, both in 2020.  Mr. Biden is the only person ever to receive more than 80 million votes and, despite losing the popular vote, President Trump increased his vote total by just under 11 million when compared to his aggregate 2016 number.


North Carolina:  With Sen. Richard Burr (R) previously saying he will not seek a fourth term in 2022, potential successors are making moves.  US Rep. Mark Walker (R-Greensboro), who is retiring from Congress rather than choosing to compete in a newly drawn 6th District that is next to impossible for a Republican to win, publicly confirms that he is a potential statewide candidate and may formally announce his US Senate campaign as early as December 1st according to reports. 

State Sen. Erica Smith (D-Henrico), who raised just under $240,000 for her statewide bid but was helped by approximately $3 million in conservative group spending that attacked her for being too liberal, finished the Democratic primary campaign with 34.8% of the vote in losing to nominee Cal Cunningham by 22 points.  Late last week, she announced her intention to enter the 2022 open seat Senate campaign.  Conversely, another prominent North Carolina politico, White House Chief of Staff and former Congressman Mark Meadows, said he will not run for the Senate in two years.

Candidate Recruitment:  Staring at another difficult US Senate map in 2022 where Republicans are forced to protect 20 Senate seats as opposed to the Democrats’ 13, new National Republican Senatorial Committee chairman Rick Scott (R-FL) looks to have his sights set on three GOP Governors, attempting to convince them to challenge incumbent Democratic Senators. 

The reported Republican Senate candidate wish list includes Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (term-limited in 2022; would potentially oppose Sen-Elect Mark Kelly who must run for the full six-year term).  The others are Govs. Larry Hogan (against Sen. Chris Van Hollen) and Chris Sununu (versus Sen. Maggie Hassan).  There is no guarantee that any of the Governors will run for the Senate, but they represent the most formidable potential challenger to the Democratic incumbent in each situation.


CA-21:  Several news outlets have now projected former US Rep. David Valadao (R-Hanford) as the winner in California’s tight 21st Congressional District.  Still with votes to count, but now holding a margin that looks beyond freshman Rep. T.J. Cox’s (D-Fresno) reach, Mr. Valadao has not yet declared victory nor has Rep. Cox admitted defeat. 

With approximately 5,000 ballots to count, Mr. Vadadao’s lead has expanded to 1,820 votes.  Analyst estimates suggest that Rep. Cox is forced to garner a likely unreachable percentage to overturn the Valadao lead.  A Republican victory here moves the internal House GOP conference number to 210 with three races outstanding.

CA-25:  The laborious post-election counting process continues in California’s lone contested House race, the 25th District contest between Rep. Mike Garcia (R-Santa Clarita) and state Assemblywoman Christy Smith (D-Newhall).  For the past couple of days with no update counting totals being reported, Mr. Garcia’s lead stood at exactly 400 votes of 338,523 cast ballots. 

With a new vote batch released last night, the Congressman’s lead has increased by five votes with approximately 2,700 votes awaiting signature verification and tabulation.  If these trends continue, Rep. Garcia is estimated to win re-election by approximately 375 votes.

CA-49:  San Juan Capistrano Mayor Brian Maryott (R), who failed to reach the general election in the 2018 congressional race and fell to Rep. Mike Levin (D-San Juan Capistrano) 53-47% earlier this month, announced that he will run again in 2022.  Redistricting will change this seat, and all others, so it is difficult to judge future political prospects at this point in time.

IA-2:  The congressional recount attempting to decide if state Sen. Mariannette Miller-Meeks’ (R-Ottumwa) 47 vote lead over former state Senator and 2018 Lt. Governor nominee Rita Hart (D) will hold has concluded.  Under Iowa election law, counties have 18 days to conduct a recount. 

Approximately 17,000 “undervotes” were present, which are returned ballots without a choice in the congressional race, or where voter intent is not clear.  Over 394,400 people are recording as casting a congressional vote, a 6.6% increase over the 2016 presidential election year total. 

The Secretary of State’s office reports that the districtwide recount has reduced the Miller-Meeks edge to just 6 votes.  It appears the state will certify the election on Monday, November 30th.

NY-22:  The Upstate NY-22 race has been the slowest to reach culmination and it is still undetermined.  At one point in the early counting, former US Rep. Claudia Tenney (R) held a lead of greater than 50,000 votes over Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D-Utica), yet the race was never called. 

The lead continued to dwindle to just over 25,000, then to 11,000, before dropping to just over 9,000.  Now, the race, with over 317,489 total votes cast and recorded, already an increase of 7.2% when compared with 2016, sees the margin flipping to Mr. Brindisi by a scant 13 votes with 99% counted.

At this point, the Congressman leads 155,435 to 155,422.  The Libertarian candidate has 6,632 votes.  


Texas:  Democrats are beginning to assess their chances of challenging Lone Star State Gov. Greg Abbott (R) who is preparing to seek a third term in 2022.  So far, the Democratic field appears limited but does feature several big names. 

Among them are former US Representative, presidential, and Senatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke, ex-Housing & Urban Development Secretary and presidential candidate Julian Castro, and the latter man’s twin brother, US Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-San Antonio).  Presumably, the two brothers will not oppose each other for the nomination.  It will be interesting to see if any of these men make substantial moves toward forming a gubernatorial campaign in the early months of 2021.