Dec 14, 2019 - Politics & Policy

Young voters' value in 2020 swing states

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Afro Newspaper/Gado/Getty Contributor

Young voters in battleground states will be a key target for 2020 candidates.

Why it matters: Youth voter turnout has consistently been the lowest of any age group since the Census Bureau began tracking the metric. But Democratic efforts to drive record youth turnout in swing states, if successful, could block President Trump from a second term — especially if the race is as close as 2016.

What to watch: If Gen Z's surge of interest in issues like gun control and climate change translates to higher turnout rates, it could make all the difference in hotly contested swing states.

  • 2016 voters ages 18-29 were the only age group to show an increase in turnout compared to 2012. It went up by 1.1%, U.S. Census data shows.
  • In 2018, voter turnout among people ages 18-29 grew from 20% to 36%.

In key states:

  • Early voting for 18–29 year olds in Texas increased fivefold in the 2018 elections.
  • 18–29 year olds in Nevada also turned out at five times the rate they did in 2014.
  • Youth turnout surged in Florida's midterms, where 37% of 18–29 year olds hit the polls, compared to 22% in 2014.
  • NextGen estimates 80,000 additional 18–35 year olds in Wisconsin turned out in 2018 compared to 2014.

But other states fell short in 2018. Pennsylvania organizers hoped for a historic youth turnout, but only saw incremental gains compared to previous midterms, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

  • Young voters in Ohio also showed an increase during the last midterm, reaching 22% turnout. But WOSU notes the turnout still lags compared to neighboring states.

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