After Republicans’ lackluster midterm performance in which they failed to capture the Senate and only managed to gain a slim majority in the House, party leaders are seeking to determine where they went wrong.
Despite initial projections that the Republican Party would take control of both chambers of Congress due to President Joe Biden’s growing unpopularity, the GOP ultimately walked away with only a narrow majority in the House and a chance to maintain its tie with Democrats in the Senate. Some have pointed to overall candidate quality as the reason for GOP losses, while others blame the lasting influence of former President Donald Trump and the rise of young voters.
“Trump comes in and suddenly 2018, 2020, and now this one, you’ve seen young people come in and they’re typically voting at a rate of 70 to 30, 60 to 40 Democrat to Republican,” former President Barack Obama told the Daily Show’s Trevor Noah. “I’m starting to feel pretty hopeful that this is a habit.”
Obama went on to say Trump’s fiery rhetoric may have pushed younger voters to cast their ballots, resulting in major losses among candidates who were endorsed by the former president.
“Because of some really concerted efforts in a lot of important states, some of the most egregious, prominent, and potentially dangerous election deniers — they got thumped,” Obama said. “They got beat.”
Youth turnout may have helped Democrats over the finish line to defend against a GOP sweep, as turnout among voters ages 18-29 was the second-highest it’s been in almost three decades. About 27% of voters in the age bracket cast their ballots in 2022, coming in close behind the record-breaking 31% voter turnout in 2018, according to data from the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University.
Of those young voters, the majority preferred Democratic candidates over Republicans 63% to 35%, according to CIRCLE. These numbers were especially high in battleground states with key Senate and governor races such as Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
The increased turnout of young voters managed to cancel out votes by those older than 65 years old, a voting bloc that typically leans toward Republicans. Overall, voters between the ages 18-29 made up 12% of all voters, according to an ABC News exit poll — the same percentage as voters ages 65 and older.