Exit poll data: Young voters held off the red wave

Elections 2022

(NewsNation) — Newly released data from the congressional midterms reveals why one California city’s proposition to lower the voting age went down to the wire: the youth are difference makers.

New research from the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) at Tufts University reveals that the 2022 midterm election saw the second-highest youth turnout rate in the past 30 years, estimating 27% of young people (ages 18-29) cast their ballot this past November.

“Young people want to feel represented and they’re not going to take a back seat to this. They’re going to be proactive and we’re seeing this both with voting and youth organizing.” said Chuck Corra, an associate director at Generation Citizen, speaking on NewsNation’s “Rush Hour” Friday.

While votes are still being counted nationwide, the report says the age group helped decide critical races.

“It’s clear that young people had a major impact on the 2022 midterms. Youth are increasing their electoral participation, leading movements, and making their voices heard on key issues that affect their communities,” the report reads.

Many of those issues sided with the Democratic party, as exit poll data reveals the 18-29 age group is the only one that voted blue in a strong majority.

Additionally, according to the Edison Research National Election Pool exit poll, the national youth vote choice for the U.S. House of Representatives was 63% for Democrats, 35% for Republicans.

It’s why political experts and poll analyst say the youth are responsible for holding back the “red wave,” as Republicans have not done as well in key races as predicated.

“Hands down, young voters played an extremely large role in this election. Several Republicans had been predicting this red wave — a massive influx of Republican wins on Tuesday — and that just simply did not happen,” Mychael Schnell, a House reporter with The Hill, said on “Rush Hour” Friday.

According to CIRCLE, the aggregate youth voter turnout was 31% in nine electorally competitive states that included Florida, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Washington. Many of them include races that are still being counted.

“We’re seeing young people Democratic-leaning votes coming out in larger numbers and often preventing what we might call,the red wave, the red tsunami or whatever it may be, from actually happening,” Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg, a professor at Tufts University, said on “Rush Hour”.

In the Pennsylvania Senate race, for example, where Mehmet Oz was favored at 59.4% to 40.6% to win over John Fetterman; Fetterman won by a 3-point margin, powered by voters under the age of 30 preferring Fetterman 70% to 28%.

The influence of young voters gives those fighting for Measure VY hope. The ballot measure that would have allowed residents ages 16 and 17 to participate in city-wide elections in Culver City, California, but it failed 53% to 46%.

As one Culver City residents tells the Los Angeles Times, they made lowering the voting age a movement.

“We still started a conversation about teen enfranchisement, and I think that’s really valuable regardless of outcome,” Ada Meighan-Thiel, a 17-year-old Culver City High School student told the Times. “We recognize that political participation isn’t just about voting. It’s about being active in your community, and we did just that on the campaign trail.”

It’s a conversation that been brewing for months in many states.

“We had a voter registration drive that I helped run, but it was really, it was a really good experience like talking to other students, like my peers around me,” Jenna Chan, a 17-year-old high school senior from Oklahoma City said on “Rush Hour”.

“We can’t let like different generations continue to exclude us and make it feel like our voice doesn’t matter,”Sarah Kannel, the president of the Black Law Student Association at Texas Tech, said on “Rush Hour” Friday.

And in Florida, young voters helped to elect the first Gen-Z representative to congress — 25-year-old Democrat, Maxwell Alejandro Frost.

Analysts say the issues driving many young voters to the polls are the economy, abortion access, climate change and student loan debt.

“This is a really powerful example of how their voice and their vote can matter and I think it’s really going to embolden them going forward,” Corra said.

Proponents for lowering the voting age argue that 16-year-olds should have a say since they are old enough to work, pay taxes and drive. But opponents argue that in criminal courts, those under 18 are processed as juveniles.

In some cities in Maryland, 16 and 17 year olds are already allowed to vote.

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