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Young voters’ enthusiasm for Democrats faded midterm

Young voters who have played a critical role in Democratic successes in recent elections showed signs midterm in November that their enthusiasm may be waning. a potential warning sign for a party that will need their strong support ahead of the 2024 presidential race.

Voters under 30 went 53% for Democratic House candidates compared to just 41% for Republican candidates nationwide, according to AP VoteCast, a broad national survey of the electorate. But that level of support for Democrats was down from 2020, when those voters backed President Joe Biden over his predecessor, Donald Trump, from 61% to 36%. And in 2018, when Democrats used a midterm push to regain control of the House, voters ages 18 to 29 went 64% for the party versus 34% for the GOP.

Biden’s party has nonetheless exceeded medium-term expectations, holding the Senate and yielding only a small Republican majority in the House. The president himself called the participation of young voters “historic”. Still, the trend line for young voters may be an early indicator of Democrats’ challenge to maintain the coalition of black, women, college-educated, urban and suburban voters that backed the party in the years since Trump won the White Loger.

The weakness of any part of this electoral bloc could have implications in the next presidential race. Biden, who will be weeks away from his 82nd birthday on Election Day 2024, says he intends to run again. Trump, 76, has already announced his candidacy.

“There may have been a pushback among younger voters,” said Michael McDonald, a University of Florida political science professor and voting and data expert.

McDonald warned against reading too much about what could be an anomaly. But he said the change may have been fueled by issues such as high inflation, which has hit young people particularly hard because their wages are less likely to rise fast enough to keep pace with rising prices.

“Younger people also have the weakest partisan attachments, so they may be more sensitive to partisan swings nationally,” McDonald said. “There’s no reason Republicans can’t bounce back among young people.”

Indeed, VoteCast shows that only about a quarter of Democrats under 30 say being a Democrat is “extremely” or “very” important to them, compared to about a third of older Democrats.

The data showed voters under 30 did not support Democrats decisively enough to sway key races nationally, but the news wasn’t all bad for the party. Midterm voters under 45 — an age bracket that includes Gen Z and Millennials — backed Biden’s party at rates that topped his 2020 support in the races for governor of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Kansas, as well as the Pennsylvania Senate race.

Democratic Lt. Governor John Fetterman beat famed Republican heart surgeon Dr. Mehmet Oz in the Pennsylvania Senate contest while getting 62% of the vote from 18-44 year olds. That was slightly better than Biden’s 56% with such voters in 2020. In Pennsylvania’s gubernatorial race, Democrat Josh Shapiro also won while topping Biden’s support in 2020, winning 64% of that age group .

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly won a second term by slightly surpassing 2020 margins with voters under 45 in the red state 52% to Biden’s 45%. Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer also secured re-election while garnering a slightly higher percentage of state voters under 45 in 2022, 61%, than Biden in 2020, 54%.

Michigan allows people to register to vote on Election Day, which caused lines on college campuses to be so long that the last poll at the University of Michigan was at 2:05 a.m.

But states allowing last-minute registration didn’t lift Democrats everywhere. The party’s candidates have underperformed Biden’s margins among voters under 45 in some key races, including the New Hampshire and Nevada gubernatorial races, both of which allow registration until the day of the ballot.

In the Nevada gubernatorial race, Democratic incumbent Steve Sisolak was beaten with his party’s support among voters under 45 at 54%, a bit behind Biden’s 61% support in 2020. The same trend occurred in New Hampshire: 43% for Democrat Tom Sherman against. 59% for Biden. There, Republican Governor Chris Sununu was easily re-elected.

Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez, president of NextGen America, a progressive organization that works to mobilize young voters, said the group reached out to 90% of eligible voters between the ages of 18 and 35 in Pennsylvania, calling, texting or seeing them. in person on university campuses. VoteCast showed that 34% of Pennsylvania voters aged 18 to 29 said they were contacted exclusively on behalf of the state’s Democratic candidates, more than older voters.

Tzintzún Ramirez said younger voters said they were most concerned about the economy and racial justice, at least until the Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade in June. After that, she says, “abortion jumped to the fore.”

VoteCast found that about half of young voters in some of the most competitive states said the Roe reversal had a major impact on their decision to run. In Michigan, where an amendment to constitutionally protect the state’s abortion rights passed on Election Day, about half of voters under 45 said they were “angry” with Roe’s cancellation.

VoteCast found that 36% of all voters under 45 identify as progressive Democrats, compared to 20% of older voters. It also showed that younger voters — particularly those under 30 — were especially likely to say immigrants help the United States more than hurt, and that racism in the country was a very serious problem.

“For us, it’s not just about a politician or a party,” said Tzintzún Ramirez. “It’s about realizing a vision for our country that is more just and reflects the realities of a generation facing a climate crisis, growing racial injustice, rampant inequality and a declining democracy.”


Follow AP coverage of the 2022 midterm elections at https://apnews.com/hub/2022-midterm-elections. Find more details on the AP VoteCast methodology at https://www.ap.org/votecast.

The Independent Gt

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