Democrats hail young voters, Gen Z as US midterm results roll in

Young voters helped to make the difference in some key states and mute Republicans’ projected ‘red wave’, advocates say.

Student volunteers help out at a booth to encourage on-campus voting at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Florida [John Raoux/AP Photo]

Young people have been credited with helping to make a difference in several key United States midterm races as Democrats largely muted Republicans’ projected “red wave”.

While control of the House of Representatives and the Senate remained undetermined on Thursday – as votes continued to be counted two days after election day – Democrats have so far celebrated their better-than-expected performance against Republicans.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, President Joe Biden hailed the contribution of the youth vote, who he said helped make the election “a good day”.

“And I especially want to thank the young people of this nation, who – I’m told, I haven’t seen the numbers – voted in historic numbers again and just as they did two years ago,” he said.

“They voted to continue addressing the climate crisis, gun violence, their personal rights and freedoms, and the student debt relief.”

He also referenced Maxwell Alejandro Frost, who at 25 years became the first member of Generation Z – a term for people born between the mid-1990s and early 2000s – to be elected to Congress.

“History was made tonight,” Frost, who emphasised the issues of climate change, gun violence and abortion rights during his campaign to represent a district in Florida, wrote in an election night tweet. “We made history for Floridians, for Gen Z, and for everyone who believes we deserve a better future.”

According to the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE), an estimated 27 percent of US youth aged between 18 and 29 cast their ballot in this year’s midterm election. That makes it the second-highest youth turnout in any midterm vote, which generally have lower turnouts than presidential election cycles. There were nearly 52 million eligible voters in the age group in the US in 2022.

Young voters tend to skew Democrat, with 63 percent of them identifying with the party in 2022, as opposed to the 35 percent who identified with the Republican Party.

The age group has considerably more Democratic voters than any other, with voters split between parties in the 30 to 44 demographic, and increasingly favouring Republicans in the 45 to 64 and 65 plus demographics, according to CIRCLE, which analysed Edison Research exit polling data.

While Tuesday’s youth turnout was far behind the 2020 presidential election, which saw more than half of the age group cast a ballot, young people were particularly influential in several key races, data shows.

AP VoteCast, an in-depth survey of more than 94,000 voters nationwide, found that 61 percent of voters younger than 45 backed Democrat John Fetterman in his Pennsylvania Senate race. The number was slightly higher than the 56 percent of young voters who backed Biden in the state in 2020.

Fetterman’s victory represented the only Senate seat to flip so far this year.

Meanwhile, 70 percent of voters in the 18 to 29 age bracket in Pennsylvania voted for Fetterman, compared with just 28 percent who voted for his opponent, Republican Mehmet Oz, according to CIRCLE. Youth in the state represented about 12 percent of the overall vote.

In the yet-to-be-called Arizona Senate race – one of three outstanding races on Thursday that will decide which party controls the Senate – 76 percent of young voters, who accounted for 12 percent of all voters, supported Democrat incumbent Mark Kelly, while 20 percent supported his Republican challenger Blake Masters.

Michigan, meanwhile, saw the largest increase of registered 18 to 29-year-olds compared with the 2018 midterms of any state, with a growth of 38 percent. In the state, Democrats won close gubernatorial and secretary of state races, both of which will influence how officials approach the 2024 election administration. Voters also approved a change to the state’s constitution to enshrine abortion rights.

“Young people literally prevented a red wave & saved Democrats. Full stop,” tweeted Victor Shi, a youth voting advocate, as results from the election continued to roll in.

“If you know a young voter, please thank them.”

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies