Two-hundred and six Pivot Counties voted for Barack Obama (D) in 2008 and 2012 and Donald Trump (R) in 2016. In the 2020 presidential election, 181 Retained Pivot Counties voted for Trump again, and 25 Boomerang Pivot Counties voted for Joe Biden (D).
Demographically, Retained Pivot Counties tended to be less populous, with an average population of 62,890 compared to 186,852 for Boomerang Pivot Counties. Retained Pivot Counties also tended to have lower median home values and lower rates of educational attainment when compared to the average Boomerang Pivot County. Both Retained and Boomerang Pivot Counties tended to have a higher-than-average non-Hispanic white population compared to the nationwide percentage.
What does demographic data reveal about Pivot Counties with the highest and lowest rates of voter turnout in 2020?
Of the ten Pivot Counties with the highest voter turnout rates in 2020, eight were Retained Pivot Counties and two were Boomerang Pivot Counties. Turnout rates increased in all of these counties between 2016 and 2020.
Based on 2019 U.S. Census estimates, the ten pivot counties with the highest voter turnout rates in 2020 have a larger percentage white population than the average Pivot County (89.7% versus 85.0%). They also had higher median home values ($220,530 versus $134,148) and higher rates of bachelor degree attainment (24.9% versus 21.0%).
Of the ten Pivot Counties that had the lowest voter turnout in 2020, nine were Retained Pivot Counties and one was a Boomerang Pivot County. Two of these counties—Woodruff and Benson—were the only two Pivot Counties where turnout rates decreased from 2016.
These counties have larger percentage American Indian or Alaska Native populations than the average Pivot County (24.8% versus 3.9%). Three—Benson, Ziebach, and Corson—are located entirely or partly on an Indian reservation. The ten Pivot Counties with the lowest voter turnout rates also had larger percentage Black or African American populations (15.7% versus 7.9%), lower median home values ($81,110 versus $134,148), and higher percentages of persons living in poverty (24.7% versus 14.3%).
Nationwide, the voter turnout rate in the 2020 presidential election was 69.3%, the highest since 1900. Retained Pivot Counties had a total turnout of 67.8%, 1.5 points below the nationwide rate, and Boomerang Pivot Counties had a total turnout of 71.6%, 2.3 points above. Ballotpedia uses voting-age population estimates provided by the U.S. Census to calculate turnout.
For more information about turnout in Retained and Boomerang Pivot Counties, click here.
For more information about the demographics of these counties, click here.