The midterm elections could be decided by young voters. A new poll shows that a record number of young people are intending to vote in next month’s elections. Among 18 to 29-year-olds, 40% say they will definitely vote. This is a historic high.
Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government conducted the poll, which may be grim reading for Republicans trying to keep control of Congress. Young voter turnout has usually remained dismally low – a consistent problem for Democrats and progressives in tight races. This appears to be changing.
The highest young voter turnout in modern history was in 1986 and 1994, when it hit a high of 21%. If the Harvard poll is borne out, the youth vote will break all records and could cause some serious upsets in midterm elections. While a ‘blue wave’ of Democratic victories is predicted, it is now more likely that Republicans will keep the Senate. However, a historically high vote from under-30s could be a game changer.
During the last midterm elections in 2014, just 19.9% of young voters cast ballots – the lowest in 40 years. A depressed youth vote may have helped the GOP retain control of Congress for so long. Republicans are far more popular among older voters, especially the Baby Boomer generation.
Voters under 30 usually have the lowest turnout of any age demographic, though young voters are more likely to vote in presidential elections, while ignoring midterms. However, solid midterm election victories allowed Republicans to effectively obstruct President Barack Obama’s agenda for seven years.
The Harvard study also found that more young Democrats than Republicans are eager to vote – 54% as compared to 43%. This could be crucial in deciding tight congressional races. Both parties have stressed the importance of voting on November 6, with the GOP reportedly preparing for the worst.