Young voters are shifting political alliances

Elections 2022

(NewsNation) — As the midterm election nears, some Democratic candidates are hoping to rally the youth vote for a boost. But young voters may not be as likely to lean left as they have in the past.

A 2017 poll from Morning Consult found that 47 percent of voters in the 18-34 age group identified as liberal, with 22 percent moderate and 26 percent conservative.

In 2022, some of those numbers have shifted, with the number of young voters identifying themselves as liberal dropping to 34 percent. Still, self-identified conservatives held steady at 26 percent, while 27 percent now identified as moderate.

That’s a challenge for Democrats who might be relying on the youth vote, but also for Republicans who have rallied behind former President Donald Trump.

“I think the the challenge for Republicans is people don’t want a party of one person, either. They want a party that stands for the values that they affiliate with, and so I do think that this election, it’s going to be a struggle to get young people out,” said Johanna Maska, CEO of the Global Situation Room.

Maska cautions that it’s hard to predict what will happen in the future. Traditional wisdom holds that people tend to vote liberal when they’re young, but become more conservative over time, as they become more concerned about protecting their financial interests.

That may not be true for upcoming generations.

“We don’t have pensions, we have, you know, a lot of people are working multiple jobs to try to figure out a way that they can care for their children and for their parents. And so this generation feels very squeezed,” Maska said.

Despite earning more money than previous generations, millennials are still behind in wealth thanks to rising costs for everything from housing to groceries, not to mention student loans.

In 2022, millennials owned just 6.4 percent of the country’s wealth. In comparison, in 1992 when baby boomers would have been a similar age, they owned 23.5 percent of the nation’s wealth.

Maska said candidates who want young voters to turn out need to do a better job of addressing that feeling of economic vulnerability.

In 2018, Gen Z and millennial voters had record turnout and that could be surpassed in this midterm election.

Some studies have shown younger voters are less likely to identify with political parties. That, Maska said, is in contrast to the image given by social media, which tends to highlight people who are more extreme.

“I believe that the vast majority of people still just want their government to work. They want an opportunity, and they want them to feel safe. Yeah, they want to feel safe. Absolutely. They want to have these basic necessities taken care of,” Maska said.

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