Black turnout dropped sharply in 2022
Plus: Young voters' moderate views, AI polling (& mind-reading), Nate Silver shares an update, and partisans' shifting views of Twitter post-Musk acquisition
No. 264 | May 5th, 2023
“Turnout in last year’s midterm elections fell from a century-high point of 50 percent in 2018 to 46.6 percent in 2022, and census data released Tuesday suggest the drop was concentrated among Black voters, younger voters and college graduates.
Black voter turnout dropped by nearly 10 percentage points, from 51.7 percent in 2018 to 42 percent in 2022, according to a Washington Post analysis of the Census Bureau’s turnout survey. White voter turnout slipped by only 1.5 points to 53.4 percent. The 11-point turnout gap between White and Black voters is the largest in any presidential or midterm election since at least 2000.”
“More than half of the nation’s citizen, voting-age population (CVAP) voted in 2022 — the second highest turnout for a congressional election in two decades. The 52.2% voter turnout was just 1.2 percentage points lower than in 2018 (53.4%) and significantly higher than in 2014 (41.9%) and in 2010 (45.5%).
Despite lower turnout in 2022 than in 2018, the share of voting-age citizens who were registered to vote was 69.1% — the highest registration rate in a midterm election since at least 2002. The data released today are based on the Voting and Registration Supplement which surveyed non-institutionalized civilians about their voting and registration behavior in the 2022 congressional elections.”
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Lauren Harper and Hugh Jones: Young Voters Are More Moderate Than You Think (The Liberal Patriot)
“In the days and weeks after the 2022 midterms, we heard a common refrain from pundits, prognosticators, and even the president himself: hordes of progressive young people turned out in near-record numbers and stopped an anticipated red wave dead in its tracks.
In close elections, do sizable voter segments like “young voters,” “married men,” or “black women” really make the difference between winning and losing? Absolutely. But despite the upbeat headlines, young voters not only turned out at a lower rate in 2022 than in the last midterm—they voted Democratic at a lower rate, too.
But as readers of The Liberal Patriot are aware, demographics are not destiny—and voters are more varied and volatile than the media tends to acknowledge. Contrary to the dominant media narrative, young people are a mainstream cohort, have nuanced perspectives on major issues, and should not be taken for granted by Democrats.”
🤖 Artificial Intelligence
“Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) captures coarse, colorful snapshots of the brain in action. While this specialized type of magnetic resonance imaging has transformed cognitive neuroscience, it isn’t a mind-reading machine: neuroscientists can’t look at a brain scan and tell what someone was seeing, hearing or thinking in the scanner.
But gradually scientists are pushing against that fundamental barrier to translate internal experiences into words using brain imaging. This technology could help people who can’t speak or otherwise outwardly communicate such as those who have suffered strokes or are living with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Current brain-computer interfaces require the implantation of devices in the brain, but neuroscientists hope to use non-invasive techniques such as fMRI to decipher internal speech without the need for surgery. Now researchers have taken a step forward by combining fMRI’s ability to monitor neural activity with the predictive power of artificial intelligence language models.”
Ethan Mollick: It is starting to get strange (One Useful Thing)
“OpenAI may be very good at many things, but it is terrible at naming stuff. I would have hoped that the most powerful AI on the planet would have had a cool name (Bing suggested EVE or Zenon), but instead it is called GPT-41. We need to talk about GPT-4.
But, you might ask, hasn’t GPT-4 been around forever (or at least for about a month, which is forever in AI terms)? Yes, but the last week has seen a massive expansion in the system’s capabilities, and that is starting to bring into focus how large an effect AI is going to have on work.
ChatGPT is going to change how data is analyzed and understood. It can do work autonomously and with some real logic and skill (though mistakes creep in they are rarer than you expect). For example, it does every data visualization I can think of. Below, you can see a few - I actually asked it to generate fake data for these graphs to show them off, and it was happy to do so.”
🗺️ Data Visualization
📰 Data Journalism
Nate Silver: Some personal news (Silver Bulletin)
“Last Tuesday morning, April 25th, I woke up to a short text from my boss at ABC News asking if we could speak at 10. I immediately suspected it was bad news. She and I are usually pretty relaxed about scheduling — so the specificity of the timing was ominous. By the end of the day, about two-thirds of the FiveThirtyEight staff had been laid off as part of an ongoing series of job cuts at Disney.
It wasn’t that much of a surprise given the depth of the Disney layoffs. But it was still devastating news. I’ve been at Disney for almost 10 years and it’s sad that my time is coming to an end. ABC News and ESPN gave us the freedom to experiment with data journalism a decade ago and their support meant a lot. We were still building the plane while we flew it and there was an obstacle course of successes and failures.”
📊 Polling & Public Attitudes
Claire Cain Miller: More U.S. Women Are Avoiding Unwanted or Mistimed Pregnancies (The New York Times)
“Births and pregnancies in the United States have been on a long-term decline. A new data analysis provides one reason: It’s becoming less common for women to get pregnant when they don’t want to be.
The analysis, released Thursday in the journal Demography by researchers at the Guttmacher Institute, estimates the number of pregnancies in the United States — there is no single official count — and examines women’s feelings about the timing of their pregnancies. In the past, most demography surveys have asked if pregnancies were intended or not, but that approach missed nuances like whether a woman was ambivalent about being pregnant — or wanted to be pregnant, but earlier or later.
The new analysis, covering 2009 to 2015, found that a growing majority of women said their pregnancies came at the right time. It uncovered a decline in the share of pregnancies that women didn’t want or that happened too soon, a shift driven by young women.”
“Two years ago, a majority of Republican Twitter users in the United States said the site had a bad impact on American democracy. But today, following Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter, their views have become much more positive, while those of their Democratic counterparts have grown more negative.
The share of Republican and Republican-leaning Twitter users who say the platform is mostly bad for American democracy has dropped from 60% in 2021 to 21% today, according to a Pew Research Center survey of U.S. adults conducted March 13-19, 2023. At the same time, the share of Republican Twitter users who say the site is mostly good for democracy has risen from 17% to 43%.
Democrats’ views have moved in the opposite direction. The percentage of Democratic and Democratic-leaning Twitter users who say the platform is good for American democracy has decreased from 47% to 24% in the past two years, while the share who say it is bad for democracy has increased – though more modestly – from 28% to 35%.”