Young voters who, according to some analysts, may have made a significant difference in key races could have had an impact on the Republican red wave of victories that was predicted but did not materialize in the U.S. midterm elections. “I’d say young people were definitely influential in preventing that wave,” said Ruby Belle Booth, elections coordinator for the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE).
CIRCLE is an independent research organization at Tufts University that focuses on youth civic engagement and conducts extensive research on youth participation. “I don’t think we can say young people are the only reason,” she said. “But I think that young people absolutely did have a role in preventing that red wave from materializing as it was predicted to.”
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Gen Z leaned Blue, Exit Polls Suggest
Republicans and conservatives alike, as well as many other observers, attribute the dismal results to a backlash against the ousted president Donald Trump and the contentious candidates he backed but who ultimately lost their respective elections. However, some analysts believe that youth may have also been a deciding factor in the outcomes. According to John Della Volpe, director of polling at the Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics, “it’s actually the same story, for now, three cycles in a row.
I want to especially thank young people who overwhelmingly came out to vote in this midterm election. There is no doubt that your votes were decisive in critical races up and down the ballot. pic.twitter.com/yU1jUCtDNJ
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) November 11, 2022
When Gen Z entered the category of young American voters in 2018, we saw they had a significant impact in the 2018 midterm election.” Early projections indicate that those between the ages of 18 and 29 made up about 12% of the total votes in this election, which is similar to the 2018 midterms at 13%.
“We saw a similar effect in 2020. So now, for the third election cycle in a row, younger Americans made the difference in state after state after state,” said the author. However, according to CIRCLE, 27% of young people voted, which is the second-highest youth voter turnout in almost three decades. However, Belle Booth noted that those votes frequently favored Democratic candidates by a wider margin than the rest of the nation.
And they might have made a difference in some important races. For instance, CIRCLE estimated that young people contributed “a significant portion” of Democrat John Fetterman’s victory over Republican Dr. Mehmet Oz in the close Pennsylvania senate race. According to their estimates, Fetterman received 120,000 votes from young voters, which is more than half of his victory margin of about 220,000 votes, and was preferred by young people ages 18 to 29 by a margin of 70% to 28%.
Tony Evers, a Democrat running for governor of Wisconsin, won the election by a narrow margin of 89,000 votes over Republican Tim Michels, according to CIRCLE estimates of 79,000 young voters. And in Kansas, young voters, who made up 14 per cent of the electorate, supported Democrat Laura Kelly for governor by 11 points, casting 11,000 net votes which bolstered her to a 15,000 vote victory over her Republican opponent, CIRCLE found.
That’s exactly what happened this election, and why young voters dealt a decisive blow to the far right for the third cycle in a row.
— Voters of Tomorrow (@VotersTomorrow) November 10, 2022
“Because of their strong preference for Democratic candidates in those races, youth gave these candidates their strongest base of support,” CIRCLE said in its report. CIRCLE used information gathered from exit polls to produce these projections. They approximated the number of young voters who cast ballots for each candidate using the youth share and youth choice data given by AP VoteCast.
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David Skor, a data scientist, issued a warning about drawing conclusions about the midterm elections’ outcome based solely on exit polls. There has been a long history of exit polls getting these fundamental questions incorrect, he claimed. “The reality about exit polls is that most people don’t answer them.”
“I think that academics after several months, they may do their best to try to make them more compatible with other sources of data,” he said. “Exit polls have an extremely poor track record of answering these kind of compositional questions.”
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