Election 2022: This is Gen Z’s Moment
There’s been a surge in youth voting since 2018, and if it continues it’s going to upend next week’s US election
According to a new national poll from the Institute of Politics at Harvard’s Kennedy School, 40% of 18–29 year olds say they are definitely going to vote in the mid-terms. That is on track to match or maybe even surpass the record level of turnout from young people in 2018.
This, more than any other bit of political news I’ve seen in recent weeks, is a big deal.
Unlike other national surveys, the Harvard Public Opinion Project focuses solely on querying young voters, which means that it offers more precision about the way they are trending.
It should be obvious why this is important, but let me spell it out. In 2018, voter turnout among 18–29 year-olds rose dramatically from 20% four years early to 36%. That was the Trump effect at work. His polarizing brand of leadership didn’t just stir up his support base, it also mobilized millions of young people who were repelled by his politics as well.
Young voters tilt demonstrably toward the Democratic Party. According to the IOP poll, they want Democrats to stay in control of Congress by a nearly two-to-one margin, 57% to 31%. That preference has only gotten stronger since the spring, according to the group.
What has happened since then? More terrible school shootings plus one truly earth-shaking Supreme Court opinion, along with a rising assault on LGBTQ youth. And those developments are reflected in the IOP survey. In the spring, the last time IOP polled young people, women preferred Democratic control of Congress by a 26 point margin. Now that has risen to 35 points, which the preferences of young men have barely shifted.
Most young Americans believe their rights as well as the rights of others are under attack. As the IOP reports, “Members of the LGBTQ community feel the most pressure, as 72% are concerned about their own individual rights. While 63% of women agree their rights are under attack compared to 55% of men, a similar proportion of women (73%) and men (72%) agree that the rights of others are under attack today.” Young people are also generally positive about three…