It’s no surprise that midterm elections have historically been a referendum on the sitting president’s political party. Since 1934, the president’s party has, on average, lost 4 Senate seats and a whopping 28 House seats. What’s more: there have been only three midterm elections during which the president’s political party gained House seats and 6 midterm elections during which the president gained Senate seats.
But this 12 months’s midterm deviates drastically from past midterm elections. Heading into Election Day, Republicans predicted a large red wave, and various pollsters and pundits predicted that this election can be heavily tilted against Democrats. Nonetheless, per week after Election Day, President Joe Biden and Democrats are poised to keep up control of the Senate and either lose the House of Representatives by a slim margin or barely hold onto it.
Regardless of how one slices the outcomes of this midterm, it is obvious that Democrats outperformed expectations and historical patterns. What can also be clear is that based on the info up to now — and it’s necessary to underscore that full results won’t be known for a few weeks — is that young voters were a major think about Democrats’ success.
The underside line: If it weren’t for young people voting in droves, it is extremely possible that the nation would have witnessed a red wave. And while some could also be surprised on the influence of young voters, recent turnout and the present political environment point to a powerful likelihood of a high turnout amongst young people.
Starting in 2018, young people have played a task in helping Democrats win, with a historic 28% of young people turning out to vote that 12 months, in keeping with an estimate from the nonpartisan Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning & Engagement, or CIRCLE. Indeed, that’s what led to Democrats flipping control of Congress. That trend continued into 2020 with a record-breaking 50% of eligible young people casting votes — which proved critical in helping elect Biden to the presidency. And this 12 months’s midterm is on target to be one more example of young people showing up in high numbers — helping Democrats retain the Senate and limiting their losses within the House.
The turnout rate amongst young people this 12 months is projected to be the second-highest for a midterm election, with nearly 27% of young people voting, in keeping with a recent CIRCLE estimate. Although some might dismiss this number since it’s lower than that of 2018, let’s have a look at the turnout of young Democrats and young Republicans.
Based on the tabulations of early votes and mail-in ballots, young Democrats turned out at a far higher rate than young Republicans. Consider Michigan: Comparing 2018 and 2022, almost 49,000 more young Democrats voted early or absentee this 12 months; Republican gains equaled only barely greater than 3,000 votes, in keeping with Democratic political data firm TargetSmart. Pennsylvania and Arizona’s early and absentee voter reporting also indicates that young Democrats turned out at a far higher rate than young Republicans.
It’s not only early and mail-in votes that show young people preferred Democrats at the next rate. Many exit polls tell the same story, especially in battleground states. For instance, in Arizona, Recent Hampshire, and Pennsylvania, upward of 70% of young people said they voted for Democrats. In Georgia, Wisconsin and Nevada, a majority of young voters said they voted for Democratic candidates.
And it’s unsurprising. Starting with the overturning of Roe v. Wade and the indisputable fact that the overwhelming majority of Republicans have voted against bills that address issues corresponding to climate change, gun reform and reproductive rights, more young people feel like they haven’t any home within the Republican Party. It’s hard for young people to support a political party that seems to only work against our interests and values.
At the identical time, the Biden administration and Democrats have taken noteworthy actions to indicate young voters that they care about our lives: investing a historic amount in combating climate change through the Inflation Reduction Act, forgiving student loan debt and pardoning those convicted of easy marijuana possession. Young people care deeply about these issues.
The Biden administration and Democrats have also invested heavily in recruiting young influencers to amplify their message. Days before the election, the Democratic National Committee assembled a gaggle of online activists and gave them the tools they needed to publicize the administration’s successes and encourage people to vote. Meeting young people where they’re requires going to online spaces and using messengers young people take heed to — and Democrats did that.
As instrumental of a task young people had on this election, Gen Z is removed from done. In a few weeks, Democratic U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican challenger Herschel Walker will face one another again in a runoff election in Georgia. And identical to in 2020, turnout amongst young people will likely be pivotal.
Gen Z and millennials are on target to outnumber another generation by 2024. That signifies that our political power is just growing — and the necessity for Democrats to speculate in us and address our concerns is all of the more critical. Because, in any case, there isn’t a path to victory for Democrats in elections going forward without young people.
For now, though, we have fun a generation that prevented a red wave and saved democracy. But Gen Z is just not stopping here. Gen Z is just getting began.
Victor Shi, a junior on the University of California at Los Angeles, co-hosts the “iGen Politics” podcast. He can also be a method director for Voters of Tomorrow, a Gen Z-led movement.
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