Voter turnout in the 2014 midterm elections, shown as a percentage of each state's voting-age population. [Article continues below map]
In case you weren't paying attention, this was a big week for the Republican Party. On Election Day, the nation swung decidedly to the right. Or, in the profound words of Senator Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.) Democrats got a "real ass-whuppin." The big headline: the GOP rode a wave of economic dissatisfaction and anger towards the president, taking control of the U.S. Senate for the first time since 2006, expanding their hold on the House, and winning a number of key gubernatorial and statehouse races.
A less-reported story from the general election, though, is the unbelievably low rate of voter turnout across the country. Nationwide, a measly 36.6 percent of eligible voters participated in this year's election, according to the United States Elections Project. And while midterm elections typically draw far fewer voters than do presidential elections (where turnout usually hovers above 50 percent), the pickin's were particularly slim this year, down from 40.9 percent in 2010. That put the U.S., in terms of voter turnout, well below nearly 60 other democracies around the world.
For all the billions of dollars and energy poured into America's elections, and all the rhetoric about the importance of our democratic process, the extent of voter apathy in this country might come as a bit of a shocker. Put bluntly, we kind of suck at voting.