Young Voters Losing Enthusiasm for Democrats — But So What?

AP Photo/David Zalubowski

Young voters who are “critical to Democratic successes” are showing less enthusiasm for the party, according to a breathless Associated Press report.


Well, so?

I’m not discounting the power of young voters. Whatever their enthusiasm problem might or might not be, they showed up for the midterms in unexpectedly strong numbers. And as the AP story notes, “voters under 30 went 53% for Democratic House candidates compared with only 41% for Republican candidates nationwide.”

Nevertheless, those young voters’ numbers are down significantly from the two previous elections:

But that level of support for Democrats was down compared with 2020, when such voters supported President Joe Biden over his predecessor, Donald Trump, 61% to 36%. And in 2018, when Democrats used a midterm surge to retake control of the House, voters 18 to 29 went 64% for the party compared with 34% for the GOP.

And yet, even with waning enthusiasm, young voters are what some pollsters credit for the Red Wave diminishing to a trickle.

An Edison Research National Election Pool exit poll showed that 18-29s were the only age group in which a strong majority supported Democrats. Support for Democrats was even higher among Black youth at 89% and Latino youth at 68%.

But there’s turnout and then there’s turnout. Before I explain, I need to quote something my friend and colleague Stephen Kruiser reminded his readers about on Tuesday:


This is the point in most of my columns where the Defeat Chorus starts whining about all elections being rigged, which not only isn’t true — explain Republican dominance at the state level — but prevents a serious conversation about how to make things better. I’ll probably just keep reposting this paragraph in any column that has to do with the GOP and elections.

It isn’t that Republicans can’t win. Far from it. It’s that in too many places, we’re playing by the old rules while the Democrats are playing by new rules — rules they wrote for their own benefit.

In those places — places like Colorado, California, and wherever ballot harvesting is the new normal — under the new rules, enthusiasm doesn’t matter.

I’ll say it again and I want you to say it with me: Enthusiasm doesn’t matter.

The only thing that matters in the age of mail-in voting is getting the ballots out to your people and harvesting them back in, in numbers greater than the other side.

It takes enthusiasm — the kind generated by an exciting, principled candidate — to show up with your ID on Election Day, maybe in bad weather, and stand in line until it’s finally your turn to receive your ballot, fill it out properly, and cast it.


Or maybe people are just enthused to do all that to vote against the other side — I know that’s usually the case for me.

Mail-in voting and ballot harvesting require no such enthusiasm.

It’s such a cultural thing for conservatives, a certain civic pride in playing by the old rules — the better rules — and proudly voting on Election Day.

I blithely allowed my old-school civic virtue to blind me to the harvested ballot tsunami that was silently overwhelming the Red Wave.

I was far from alone: The GOP get-out-the-vote machine is still geared towards generating Election Day enthusiasm.

Those days are over, probably for a long time. Maybe forever.

We, the grassroots GOP — not the Washington sticks-in-the-mud — must become a high-powered, fast-moving, take-no-prisoners, ballot-harvesting machine.

That’s what I’m enthusiastic about, and you’ve got to be, too.

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