These are the most and least politically engaged states. How did Pa. do? | Monday Morning Coffee

Election Day is less than a month away. Here’s a look, by the numbers

By: - October 17, 2022 7:09 am

(Capital-Star photo)

Good Monday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

You’re besieged by ads. You know the issues. You’ve made your campaign contributions. You’re talking politics around the maybe-still-virtual water cooler with your colleagues. And, if you’re like most folks, you’re probably counting down the days until Election Day.

But how politically engaged are you, really? Well, wonder no longer. Just in time for your water cooler chatter this Monday morning, the analysts at the financial literacy site WalletHub have run the numbers, and they’ve come up with a list of the most — and least — politically engaged of these 50 states.

Before we begin — a caveat, of sorts. This year’s election, as you probably know, is a midterm election, which means that turnout (as a rule) is lower than it is in presidential years. And presidential years aren’t that great to begin with, as WalletHub’s analysts point out.

(Source: WalletHub)
(Source: WalletHub).

The hotly contested 2020 election between then-President Donald Trump (the Republican) and current President Joe Biden (the Democrat) saw a record 155 million Americans cast their ballots. But that was still just shy of 67 percent of the voting age population, WalletHub noted.

In the 2018 midterms, a record 53.4 percent of all eligible voters showed up at the polls, according to WalletHub. It remains to be seen whether turnout will exceed those numbers this year. But with such big ticket items as reproductive rights, the economy, and public safety topping voters’ priority lists in 2022, turnout well could be heavy.

With that very long preamble out of the way, the list of the top 5 most and least politically engaged states — as well as where Pennsylvania finished — starts below.

One more thing: The states were compared based on 10 separate metrics, ranging from the percentage of registered voters in the 2020 presidential election to the total political contributions per adult population.

The Top 5 Most-Engaged States:

1. Maryland

2. New Jersey

3. Virginia

4.  Washington

5. Oregon

The Top 5 Least-Engaged States:

1. Arkansas

2. West Virginia

3. Alabama

4. South Dakota

5. Nebraska

(Getty Images).

Pennsylvania finished 24th overall in the WalletHub ranking.

Here’s how that broke down, by category:

  • 13th for the percentage of registered voters in 2020 presidential election.
  • 20th for the percentage of electorate who voted in the 2018 midterms.
  • 14th for the percentage of of electorate who voted in 2020 election.
  • 12th  for the change in the percentage of the electorate who voted in 2020 compared to those who voted in 2016.
  • 31st  for the total political contributions per-adult population.
  • 41st  for civic education engagement.
  • 34th for voter accessibility policies.

When it comes to mobilizing voters and increasing engagement, a range of factors are at play, Washington and Lee University political science professor Rebecca C. Harris told WalletHub.

“Unfortunately, threat or fear is a major motivator for citizens, one of the reasons the airwaves fill with negative ads. Education is also a long-term predictor of political engagement, especially just understanding how the system works and how ordinary people can move the needle,” Harris said.

“Mobilization by personal contacts or organizations can work for folks who sympathize with an organization such as a local environmental coalition, local civic group, or social media membership,” Harris continued. “There is power in mobilizing someone relationally, either as part of their personal brand or as part of their personal circles.”

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John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.