Young voters had some clear preferences.
Slide over, millennials, there’s a new kid on this voting ride. Although Gen Z are the youngest age group to be eligible to vote — not to mention be elected to Congress — they’re already turning out in force in major elections, and having an impact. With election results in the 2022 midterm elections still actively rolling in, Gen Z is already being credited with swinging results leftward. But how many Gen Zers really voted in the 2022 midterms? Let’s just say, don’t let anyone tell you that “young people don’t care.”
In the leadup to the 2022 election, Gen Z was poised to have more of an impact than ever, as more and more of the generation turns 18 and becomes eligible to vote. In 2020, one in 10 eligible voters were Gen Zers, according to Pew Research. But since then, more than 8 million Gen Zers have aged into eligibility to vote, per the Center for Information and Research On Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) at Tufts University, a research center that studies youth voting and political engagement. According to actual 2022 exit polls from Edison Research, as well as the AP VoteCast poll, around one in eight voters in the 2022 midterm elections this year were between ages 18 and 30, a number that technically includes some young millennials. (The oldest members of Gen Z, which begins with those born in 1996, are currently 25.) Even percentage-wise, that’s an encouraging number — meaning around 12-13% of all ballots cast were cast by young voters.
It gets even better when you look at Gen Z alone: According to numbers from CIRCLE released late on Nov. 9, an estimated 27% of people ages 18-29 turned out to vote in the 2022 election. It’s the second-highest turnout of youth in the past 30 years, after the 28% who turned out for the 2018 midterms. These numbers are also part of a recent upward trend of participation in midterm elections: In the 1990s through the mid-2010s, youth turnout in midterms hovered around 20%, before increasing in 2018.
And those young voters have had a significant impact, even as Americans are still waiting on results in many races. As CIRCLE notes, young voters swung heavily Democrat compared to other demographics: 63% of voters ages 18-29 gave their support to Democratic candidates for the House of Representatives, compared to 51% of those ages 30-44, and 44% of those ages 45-64. That preference for Democrats was strongest for young Black and Latino voters, who swung Democrat at rates of 89% and 68% respectively, but it was consistent for white youth as well, 58% of whom voted Democrat. In tight races — of which there were many in 2022 — young voters could make the difference.
“Young people saved this election,” Varshini Prakash, the executive director of youth organization the Sunrise Movement, said in a statement shared with Elite Daily. “Two elections in a row, young people proved that Gen Z is a vital voting bloc that can and will be the bedrock of the Democratic Party. That’s why our leaders must invest in us — from running candidates who fight for the issues that matter most to our generation, to delivering policy at the federal level that make our lives better, to putting money into critical youth organizing efforts that have historically been undervalued.”
Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to include additional numbers released by CIRCLE on Nov 9.
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