top of page
  • Haley Richardson, UCTech

Young Voters and Midterm Elections: What’s the Connection?

Over the past three months, political ads have flooded the media, whether it was via YouTube, the evening news, or even pop-up ads, signifying the arrival of midterms. Tuesday, November 8, 2022, marked the midterm elections for numerous officeholders, with most candidates having started their campaigns months in advance. Midterm elections happen two years in between the quadrennial presidential elections, in which different members of Congress must run for re-election at the end of their terms. Due to the House of Representatives and the Senate having different term lengths–two and six years, respectively–members of both chambers run during midterms. However, only thirty-five seats in the Senate are up for election due to the longer term lengths. The results of these elections determine the political makeup of both chambers, which can be the deciding point for the following two years’ legislative agenda.

This practice started in the 19th century with the 1858 midterms, four years after the formation of the Republican Party. Since their inception, midterm elections have showcased a trend of the sitting president’s party losing a significant number–usually double-digits–of congressional seats in the races. In 1858, the Republican Party was only four years old but managed to gain twenty-six seats, while incumbent President Buchanan’s party, the Democrats, lost forty-nine seats. This is a common trend because the public has had time to view the current administration’s policies and use their vote to express their dissatisfaction. However, this year’s midterms have broken that cycle, with Democrats, President Biden’s party, only losing the House of Representatives by a slim margin. In total, the Democratic Party lost nine seats in the House of Representatives and gained one seat in the Senate.

In this year’s midterms, more was at stake than congressional seats alone, drawing young voters to voting booths. 2022 has been a dangerous year for LGBTQ, trans, and reproductive rights with the overturning of Roe v. Wade and even the system of democracy itself, with many instances of violence being threatened against elected Democrats in the past four years. For example, the January 6, 2021 insurrection or the publicized plot to kidnap Minnesota governor, Gretchen Whitmer, in 2018 conducted by a far-right militia group. Generation Z is known for being very socially accepting of all identities, a fact illustrated in Pew Research Center polls, which stated that Gen Z was the most likely of the generations to believe that same-sex marriage was good for society, that forms should offer additional gender options besides “male” or “female,” and are more likely to personally know an individual who uses gender-neautral pronouns. Additionally, those same polls revealed that Generation Z is on track to be the most ethnically diverse and best-educated generation, with only 52% of 7-22-year-olds polled identifying as white, which was significantly lower than Millenials, GenXers, and Early Boomers when they were the same ages. Another poll revealed that in 2018, 57% of 18-21-year-olds had graduated high school and were enrolled in college, which beat out Millenials polled in 2003 (52%), and Gen Xers in 1987 (43%). All of these factors could explain why Generation Z is so in-tune with politics and typically hold liberal viewpoints, resulting in record turnouts for the 2022 midterms. According to The Guardian, 27% of voters ages 18-29 came out to vote this year, resulting in the second highest youth voter turnout in almost thirty years, only slightly less than in the 2018 midterms, which was the highest voter turnout in midterm elections. Young voters were the key to many Democratic wins this year, as an exit poll from the Edison Research National Election Pool revealed that the 18-29 age range were the only voters whose votes reflected a strong preference for Democratic candidates. It also stated that within that same age range, 68% of Latino and 89% of black voters leaned toward Democrats.

Historically, midterm elections have had low voter turnout, especially compared to presidential elections, but that does not lessen their importance. In recent years, an increasingly contentious political climate has led to skyrocketing voter turnouts, defying all expectations. Why does it matter? It is essential because it gives people a way to communicate to their congressional representatives what is important to them and their communities. Voting and elections are what are known as linkage institutions, organizations that allow civilians to express their voice to their government, and young voters are taking advantage of them. Since the 2016 elections, more citizens have turned 18 and can legally vote, leading to greater voter turnout for ages 18-29.

In this year’s midterms, young voters have been the key difference between one winner and another, so keep that in mind for all turning 18 because your vote could shape the future of the country, which is a huge responsibility. Make a habit of voting, start young, and pay attention to the surrounding world because increased involvement can lead to more record-breaking elections.

Works Cited:

“The 1858 Midterm Election.” U.S. Senate: The 1858 Midterm Election, 7 Mar. 2022,

Argument', ‘the. “'Maybe Gen Z Is Just Kinder': How America's Youngest Voters Are Shaping

Politics.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 26 Oct. 2022,

“Democrats Win Key Pennsylvania Races; Republicans Take Ohio Senate Seat in the Midterms.”, NBCUniversal News Group, 9 Nov. 2022,

“Election Night 2016: 24 Million Youth Voted, Most Rejected Trump.” Circle at Tufts, 14 Nov.


Kati Perry, Luis Melgar. “Where Voter Turnout Exceeded 2018 Highs.” The Washington Post,

WP Company, 11 Nov. 2022,

“Majority Changes in the House of Representatives, 1856 to Present.” US House of

Representatives: History, Art & Archives,

Melillo, Gianna. “Researchers Say 2022 Election Had Second Highest Young Voter Turnout in

Last 30 Years.” The Hill, The Hill, 11 Nov. 2022,

Mitchell, Travis. “On the Cusp of Adulthood and Facing an Uncertain Future: What We Know

about Gen Z so Far.” Pew Research Center's Social & Demographic Trends Project, Pew Research Center, 1 Apr. 2022,

“Young Adult Turnout Nearly Doubled in the 2018 Midterm Elections. Can It Be Maintained in

2022?: Kids Count Data Center.” KIDS COUNT Data Center: A Project of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, 17 Feb. 2022,

“Young Voters Hailed as Key to Democratic Successes in Midterms.” The Guardian, Guardian

News and Media, 11 Nov. 2022,

Recent Posts
bottom of page