The power of the youth vote has been the driving force behind electoral wins since the 2018 midterm elections. And with many congressional seats up for grabs this November, it is essential for candidates to address the issues young people care about most.
In January, our sister organization, Alliance for Youth Organizing, polled young voters across the political spectrum on their views about the country’s future, what policies the Biden Administration should prioritize, how they plan to engage this year in the midterm elections, and more. The results made it clear that political leaders in Washington need to focus on young people’s policy priorities ahead of this year’s midterms.
This month, in collaboration with Civiqs, we polled young people ages 17-39 across the political spectrum in battleground states on their top policy priorities and issues driving them to the polls this November, their feelings about politicians and government institutions, and their opinions about the 2022 midterms.
Here’s What We Found
When asked what issues are motivating them to vote this November, young voters in battleground states heavily focused on two issues: bringing inflation under control, and protecting abortion access.
For progressive young voters (Democrats and Democrat-leaning independents), over 60% felt that safeguarding abortion access was an issue elected officials need to be working on right now. Approximately one in four Democrats also list their top policy priorities as replacing private insurance with Medicare for All, canceling student loan debt, and bringing inflation under control. Republicans and Republican-leaning independents are prioritizing economic issues this November.
We also found that young voters’ policy priorities are what’s driving them to the polls this year. A large majority of Democratic voters under 40 say that protecting abortion access is one of the top issues motivating them to participate in the midterm election. They also indicated democracy reform and voting rights, affordable healthcare, gun violence, and climate change as key issues leading them to vote.
In contrast, young Republican voters are sharply focused on the economy and inflation, with 80% mentioning this issue as a motivating factor.
When broken down by race, white, Black, and Latinx voters are all driven to vote by concerns about inflation and the economy. Many more young white voters are motivated by protecting abortion access, compared to Black voters and Latinx voters.
Young People are Motivated to Vote this November
The overwhelming majority of young people in these key states say they plan to get involved in the 2022 elections with 86% saying they will turn out to vote.
We asked young voters, “If the November 2022 election was held today, would you vote for the Democratic candidate or the Republican candidate for congress?” While a tight majority of young voters in battleground states said they would vote for the Democratic candidate, it’s crucial to note Independent voters favor Republican candidates, 49% to 41%. When divided by race, Latinx youth in these states favored the Republican candidate over the Democrat.
When asked about their motivation to vote for certain candidates, young voters say they are more motivated to vote to support a candidate that represents their values, versus voting simply to shut down a candidate who doesn’t.
Young people are ready to change the narrative that they aren’t turning out to vote. Half of battleground state youth voters said they think young people are voting enough, but it’s up to elected officials to take action on important issues that matter to young people. However, young Democratic voters are more likely to say that if more young people vote, electeds will address issues they care about.
Political campaigns are contacting young battleground state voters, but there is room to increase outreach to young Black and rural voters
A majority of young people in battleground states say they’ve been contacted by political campaigns this month. Mostly by multiple mediums of communication, but the primary mediums were text and mail. Youth in rural areas were the most likely to say they haven’t been contacted by political candidates.
Civiqs interviewed 2,332 registered voters under the age of 40 in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin from August 11-15, 2022. The survey was conducted online, among selected members of the Civiqs research panel. Sampled individuals were emailed by Civiqs and responded using a personalized link to the survey at civiqs.com. The survey results are weighted by state, gender, race, education, and party identification to be representative of the population of registered voters under age 40 in these states. More information about Civiqs can be found online at civiqs.com/methodology.
You can find more from this poll including the memo, slide deck and press release on the Alliance Website