7 lowest US presidential election turnouts rates since 1945

Bill Clinton

US election turnouts are very low – even in presidential votes. Here are the seven lowest presidential turnout rates since 1945.

7. US Presidential Election of 1976

Four years previously, Richard Nixon won a striking second term as president, and soon replaced his VP with Gerald Ford. This was followed by the Watergate scandal, causing Nixon to step down as president before a likely impeachment. Ford subsequently became president and went into the 1976 election hoping to secure another four years of Republican-rule.

His attempt was thwarted however, by the DemocratsJimmy Carter. The turnout rate at this election was just 53.6% of the voting-age population.

President Gerald Ford, MCAS El Toro, 1976

6. US Presidential Election of 1984

At this election, incumbent Republican president Ronald Reagan defeated Democratic challenger Walter Mondale in a stunning political victory. Reagan won every state bar Minnesota, securing his place has one of America’s greatest ever election winners.

Just 53.3% of voters cast their ballots in this election, perhaps since Reagan was seen as the overwhelming favourite to win.

Ronald Reagan

5. US Presidential Election of 1980

At this election, Jimmy Carter sought a second-term, but was defeted by Republican Ronald Regan. The turnout rate was just 52.8%.

4. US Presidential Election of 1948

This election had a very low turnout rate indeed. Just 51.1% of the American voting age public turned out to vote, in an election which saw incumbent Democratic president Harry Truman win his first presidential term at the top of the ticket. The election brought about the fifth four-year period in a row of Democratic White House rule.

This ended four years later when Eisenhower came to power.

3. US Presidential Election of 2000

This election had a staggeringly low turnout rate of 50.3%. After eight years of Bill Clinton, George Bush was elected to succeed him, however, while Bush won the electoral college vote, he lost the popular vote to incumbent Vice President Al Gore.

President George W. Bush visits Pentagon

2. US Presidential Election of 1988

In 1988, Ronald Reagan’s Vice President George H. W. Bush ran for president against Democrat Michael Dukakis. Bush’s victory secured another four years of Republican-rule. The turnout rate at this election was just 50.3%.

1. US Presidential Election of 1996

In 1992, Bill Clinton won the White House from George Bush senior on turnout rate of 55.2%. Four years later, when Bill Clinton secured his second term, the rate plummeted to just 49%, a tragically low rate for a modern democracy.

The rate is only the second lowest on record for a US presidential election; it is only higher than the 48.9% rate of 1924 in which Calvin Coolidge secured his first full term as US president.

What about in 2016?

Donald Trump Grimace & Arms Out

In last year’s presidential election, Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton to become the 45th President of the United States. The election’s turnout rate does not make it on to the list of the seven lowest modern turnout rates, but it was still a depressingly low 55.5%. The rate at Barack Obama’s 2008 victory was 58.2%, but it dropped to 54.9% in 2012.

The turnout figures are based off this collection of US Presidential election turnout rates.