Young People Are Registering to Vote in Huge Numbers, New Study Finds

In some battleground states, 18-to-29-year-olds now make up a far greater percentage of new registrants.

Student protesters at the March for Our Lives in Detroit, Michigan on March 24, 2018.Chirag Wakaskar/SOPA Images via ZUMA Wire

The March for Our Lives teens said they’d #VoteThemOut, and a new study suggests they could be poised to do just that. According to the political data firm TargetSmart, the percentage of newly registered voters who are under the age of 30 has grown significantly in a number of key battleground states since the February school shooting in Parkland, Florida. The surge could have big implications in this fall’s fight for control of Congress.

The study evaluated all new voter registrations in the 39 states with available data since February 14, 2018—the day of the Parkland shooting—and calculated the change in the share of new registrants who are 18 to 29 years old. Across the country, the share of youth registrants increased by a modest 2.16 percentage points. But in Indiana, Virginia, and New York—home to some of this year’s marquee House and Senate contests—the share of youth registrants increased by 9.87, 10.49, and 10.7 percentage points, respectively. In Pennsylvania—where voters will decide as many as nine competitive congressional races—the share of new registrants who are younger than 30 jumped by a whopping 16.14 percentage points. The study doesn’t evaluate how many of the new registrants may have been motivated by the #NeverAgain movement.

The findings offer an early, measurable indication that youth turnout could be higher than in previous midterm elections, though there’s no guarantee that many of the new registrants will actually vote. Just under half of all 18-to-29-year-olds were registered to vote in 2014, but less than 20 percent of that population group ended up casting ballots that year. It was the lowest rate of of youth registration and turnout recorded in four decades, according to the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

Share your feedback: We’re planning to launch a new version of the comments section. Help us test it.