campaign 2022
New Report: Younger Voters Backed Democrats By Historic Margins In 2022

Morgan Stahr

Democrats’ strong performances in the 2022 elections were powered by a diverse coalition of young and female voters who turned out in record numbers, especially in swing states, according to a new analysis of the midterm elections by the progressive data firm Catalist.

Especially in heavily contested races, Millennial and Generation Z voters, defined collectively in the report as voters born after 1981, broke decisively for Democrats in even greater numbers than they did in 2018. That year, in what was seen as a rejection of President Donald Trump, the electorate handed Democrats a majority in the House of Representatives by margins the party hadn’t seen in generations. Experts said that younger voters, who are much more progressive than those of their parents’ generations, are motivated by the desire to put their values into action and a fear of conservative political power.

The Harvard Public Opinion Project, the longest-running survey of the political attitudes of Americans between the age of 18 and 29, has found a marked shift in the political preferences of younger voters over the last 10 years toward favoring government intervention in American life to further progressive policies. Majorities of young voters now support state-sponsored health care and increased government spending to end poverty, for example. Other polling has found that Americans aged 18-29 support legalizing abortion more than any other age group.

Gen Z and Millennial voters are very progressive and are likely to largely remain that way, said Morley Winograd, a researcher at Brookings who studies younger voters.

“Young voters are motivated, they’re engaged, they’re anti-MAGA, they’re pro-abortion, they’re pro-Democratic priorities and ideas,” Winograd said in an interview. In the midterm elections, he added: “One of the variables was to what degree abortion was a major issue in the race, either because of the nature of the candidate’s position, or as in Michigan, because there was an actual abortion proposition on the ballot. Wherever that happened, then you got enormous turnouts of young voters.”

Winograd said that young voters were also motivated by economic concerns such as the affordability of health care, if not for themselves yet, then for their parents and grandparents, as well as of education and housing, and concerns about democracy itself. Republicans, Winograd argued, face an increasingly challenging electoral map without improving their party’s performance among young voters.

“The under-45 GOP voters were less likely to vote, and when they did, more likely to vote Democratic than any other age group in the electorate in 2018. And so Republicans have a defection problem with younger voters, which is not surprising given where they stand on the issues,” Winograd said. “If you have a coalition, as Republicans do, made up of older people, mostly white, the older people problem becomes more and more of a problem if you’re not replacing those voters with younger voters, and they’re not.”

Jackie Johnson, a 26-year-old marketing manager living in Waukesha County, Wisconsin, told said that she had voted in most elections since turning 18, a habit in part instilled by her dad. Motivated by her beliefs about women’s bodily autonomy, voting rights, and education, Johnson said that she voted for the Democratic ticket in the midterms in 2022 and for Judge Janet Protasiewicz, the progressive pro-choice candidate, in the state Supreme Court race in April 2023.

“I felt as if this last midterm had high stakes for Wisconsin,” she said in an email. “My participation felt very meaningful.”

Signe Espinoza, the executive director of Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates and a Millennial herself, said that abortion was decisive in motivating younger voters in the state, along with related economic concerns.

“I think one of the things when we’re talking about issues, when we’re talking about inflation, we’re talking about the economy, and we’re talking about the implications for our generation, our financial situation, we’re talking about college debt, we’re talking about the fact that our generation is deciding to not have children or making decisions to delay that decision,” she said. “And so when we’re thinking about these issues, I think that Millennials are incredibly aware that when we’re talking about the economy, that is an abortion issue.”

Espinoza said it was frustrating to see abortion and economic issues being pitted against each during the midterms “when they were interconnected.”

In Pennsylvania, one of the battleground swing states that the Catalist report highlighted, the Republican candidate for governor, state Sen. Doug Mastriano, was resoundingly defeated by the Democrat, Attorney General Josh Shapiro. Mastriano, who lost by 15 points, attracted criticism from some Republicans who said he was too extreme to win a general election. He appeared to flirt with a Senate run this year, but announced last month that he would refrain from launching a 2024 campaign.

“We’re talking about a candidate in the gubernatorial race who ran off of no exceptions when it came to rape or incest in abortion care and was really clear on his position with his voting record in the legislature,” Espinoza said.

Mastriano was emblematic of the candidates that Republicans ran for governor and the U.S. Senate in almost every 2022 battleground state: Trump-endorsed election deniers who favored strict abortion laws.

Simon Rosenberg, a longtime liberal political strategist who accurately predicted Democratic victories in the 2022 midterms, said younger voters in those contested battleground states were motivated to vote by what they viewed as an unpalatable, extreme conservative agenda represented by those candidates. Heavily-funded Democratic campaigns with robust grassroots organizing operations, he said, were well-positioned to use their resources to reach out to those voters and encourage them to cast ballots.

“Despite high inflation and low approval ratings for Biden, [Democrats] actually gained ground in most of the major battleground states that determine the outcome of the presidential election,” Rosenberg said.

Rosenberg noted that, prior to 2006, the youth vote had traditionally swung between Republicans and Democrats. During that year’s midterms, younger voters turned out in record numbers and broke decisively for Democrats, Rosenberg said, motivated by deep dissatisfaction with the Bush administration driven by the Iraq War and the War on Terror.

Those crises, which sent young soldiers overseas to fight foreign wars, burst what Rosenberg calls “the bubble of affluence” and motivated younger voters to engage in politics. “What’s going to pierce the bubble of affluence for young people today? It’s not getting shot at school, it’s climate change, it’s abortion, it’s the disruption of COVID and being able to afford an apartment.”

While the conventional political wisdom is that younger voters turn out to vote at lower rates than older voters, Rosenberg says, that isn’t exactly true: “What we know from research is that registered young people vote at the same rates as registered old people — it’s just they’re registered at a much lower rate.” Rosenberg sees an opportunity for Democrats to take advantage of that and further improve their electoral performance by launching a national voter registration drive aimed at young people.

Blue Future, a progressive political action committee that trains Gen Z volunteers in the fundamentals of political organizing and campaigning, is one organization working to bring members of Gen Z into the political process.

“I think young voters really knew that we had to stop the red wave because our rights were under attack. They know, first and foremost, that they are the ones that are going to have to deal with the impact of these elections for generations,” said Morgan Stahr, the co-president of Blue Future.

“When we’re talking to students, the reason that they say they want to vote, or when they’re talking to people on the phone is like, ‘We’re sick of having to do drills at our school'” she said. “Many of these young people we work with were in seventh or eighth grade when Donald Trump was elected.”

Stahr described the youth she works with as caught between the hope that they can move their communities in a more progressive direction and the fear of extremism, gun violence, and climate change.

In Georgia, Blue Future worked with the Georgia Youth Justice Coalition, an Atlanta-based nonprofit run by high school and college students, to fight conservative-led efforts to ban books about race, gender, and sexuality from schools. Stahr said that they were able to defeat every book ban in the state.

“I think, from the beginning of our history, whether you’re looking at the Civil Rights Movement, the founding of the LGBTQ+ movement, and many other movements, and the climate justice movement, of course, young people have always been front and center. And I really do think that will continue, especially as we go into 2024,” Stahr added.

Reprinted with permission from American Independent.

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Poll: Majority Of Santos' Long Island Constituents Want Him To Resign

Rep. George Santos

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A poll released late last week found that a majority of New York Republican Rep. George Santos' constituents want him to resign, following revelations that the freshman lawmaker lied about nearly his entire biography.

The survey, conducted by Public Policy Polling, found that 60 percent of voters in New York's Third Congressional District want Santos to resign, including 38 percent of Republicans.

Voters were most concerned about Santos' lies about his religious affiliation and the manner in which his mother died, the poll found. Santos said he was Jewish, which he isn't, and claimed his mother died in the 9/11 terror attack, but she didn't. The poll found 77 percent of voters are concerned about the 9/11 lie, while 72 percent of voters are concerned about his lie about being Jewish.

Since the new Congress convened on January 3, Santos has been seen running from reporters on Capitol Hill who ask him about his litany of lies about his background. These include Santos' claims that he worked for Goldman Sachs and Citigroup; graduated from New York University and Baruch College; lost employees in the mass shooting at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida, in 2016; and was a landlord who owned multiple properties. In reality, none of those things are true.

Lies Santos has told have continued to surface since the New York Times first broke the story of his fabricated background in December. According to a video posted to Twitter on January 11 by The Recount political website, Nassau County Republican Party chair Joseph Cairo said: "[Santos] told me, I remember specifically, 'I'm into sports a little bit,' that he was a star on the Baruch volleyball team and that they won the league championship. What can I tell you?"

The New York Times reported that Cairo said: "He’s disgraced the House of Representatives, and we do not consider him one of our congresspeople. Today, on behalf of the Nassau County Republican Committee, I am calling for his immediate resignation."

Santos, however, has been adamant that he will stay in office, telling reporters who were gathered outside his congressional office on Thursday: “I will not resign. I will be continuing to hold my office, elected by the people.”

Santos later told reporters who asked him for his reaction to members of his own party calling for his resignation, "If 142 people ask for me to resign, I'll resign." Reporter Nancy Vu tweeted later that Santos had meant 142,000 and had said: "That’s the vote count I got to get elected. When all 142,000 of them tell me, I’ll go."

The Timesreported that Reps. Anthony D’Esposito, Nick LaLota, Nick Langworthy, and Brandon Williams, four Republican members of New York's congressional delegation, had said it was time for Santos to go.

They were joined by another New York Republican House member, Mike Lawler, who told reporters: "I think he needs to seriously consider whether or not he can actually do the job effectively. And right now, it's pretty clear he can’t."

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has not called on Santos to resign, and told reporters Thursday: "Well, what I find is that voters have elected George Santos. If there is a concern he will go through ethics. If there is something that is found, he will be dealt with in that manner. But they have a voice in this process."

If Santos were to resign, he would leave open a competitive seat in the Third Congressional District, the loss of which would reduce McCarthy's already thin House majority. President Joe Biden carried the district by eight points in 2020.

Reprinted with permission from American Independent.