Election 2022: Here’s Where Youth Voters Had the Biggest Impact

Voter turnout in the midterm elections among those 18-29 years old remained strong, but it lagged 2018 levels.
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  • Traditionally aged college students overwhelmingly favored Democrats in the 2022 midterms.
  • This age group had an outsized impact on races in Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
  • The 2022 vote is the latest example of a trend of growing youth engagement in national and statewide elections.

Youth voters, including traditionally aged college student voters, kept momentum from past elections to impact the 2022 midterms.

The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) at Tufts University found that 27% of young people (ages 18-29) turned out to vote in the 2022 midterm elections. That is the second-highest turnout rate among this demographic group for a midterm election in the past three decades, trailing only the 2018 midterms (31% turnout).

Youth votes made up 12% of all votes in this election.

"Young people proved once again that they'll turn out to vote and impact election results, and their turnout in 2022 is one of the highest we've ever seen in a midterm election," Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg, Newhouse director of CIRCLE, said in a statement.

"There's both a big need and extraordinary potential to continue building on this trend of strong youth voting by stepping up our support for all youth to have a voice in our democracy."

CIRCLE's data also suggests that these voters will remain important as the U.S. Senate race in Georgia goes to a runoff.

Quotation mark

Based on votes counted soon after the election, CIRCLE found that young people contributed 116,000 net votes to Democrat Raphael Warnock. He led Republican candidate Herschel Walker by 35,000 votes in the race.

Since neither candidate got more than 50% of the vote, according to state law, the winner will be determined in a runoff, scheduled for Dec. 6.

Youth voters also helped widen margins for races in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, CIRCLE found.

This demographic netted Democrat John Fetterman 120,000 votes in Pennsylvania's U.S. Senate race, which he won by roughly 236,000 votes. Youth voters netted 79,000 votes for Gov. Tony Evers in his defeat of Tim Michels in the Wisconsin gubernatorial race he won by 90,000 votes.

Overall, youth voters favored Democrats over Republican candidates in U.S. House of Representatives races. According to CIRCLE, they favored Democrats 63% of the time in 2022, while they favored Republicans just 35% of the time.

That's largely in line with trends over the past two decades.

The margin was closer among white voters (58% Democrats vs. 40% Republicans), and wider among Black (89% vs. 9%) and Hispanic (68% vs. 30%) voters.