Young voters are often portrayed as being politically uninterested and apathetic. With youth registration at presidential election year levels, this midterm cycle tells a different story. But will young voters show up on November 6th?
Cassie Smedile, national press secretary for the Republican National Committee, says “we’ve seen a huge surge in enthusiasm from millennials.”
Sabrina Singh, deputy communications director for the Democratic National Committee, says “we’re seeing engagement like we never have before.”
Young voters agree on the stakes.
Daniel Gelillo, a Democrat from Maryland, is currently a freshman at American University. The 18-year-old believes this election “could potentially be one of the most decisive elections in U.S. history.” Dalton Nunamaker is a member of the Georgetown University College Republicans. The 19-year-old freshman from Missouri says “It’ll be a huge election to just decide the future of the country.”
This is the first election cycle Gelillo and Nunamaker are eligible to vote in.
Both are part of the 18 to 24-year-old voting bloc that came of age in a politically divided America, shaped by post 9/11 terrorism threats, the great recession, mass shootings, and a 24-hour news cycle.
In this critical midterm election, Democrats are focusing on health care while the GOP touts its success with the economy. But there’s something else animating the midterms.
Daniel Gelillo: “The election of Donald Trump.”
Dalton Nunamaker: “Continuing the president’s agenda is something that’s on the top of my list.”
While the 2016 election woke up Gelillo’s peers, the gun debate is moving them. “Sandy Hook happened when I was in 7th grade and, this is, just kept happening over and over again and there really hasn’t been any sort of legislative initiative to help curb this gun violence,” Gelillo says.
Rock the Vote is a nonprofit that registers and engages young voters. President and Executive Director Carolyn DeWitt says engaging includes teaching. “They’re largely, actually, self-conscious about their understanding about our government,” DeWitt says.
DeWitt insists the idea that youth are politically apathetic is “bogus.” “Young people are incredibly passionate about the issues. It really comes down to helping them,” according to DeWitt.
The RNC pushes back against the idea that youth voters are more liberal than conservative.
Rock the Vote says current young voters are less likely to identify with a party than ever before.