Democrats scored big with young voters around the nation in Tuesday night’s midterm elections, but one state bucked the trend and its standard bearer, not surprisingly, won in a landslide.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who defeated Charlie Crist by 20 percentage points to win re-election, led his party to victory with a stunning 49% of the vote in the 18-29 age group. The strong performance helped Sen. Marco Rubio and a host of GOP House candidates and statewide officials swamp Democrats in the Sunshine State, which was considered a battleground state just four years ago. The GOP’s share of the young vote in Florida dwarfed the party’s performance elsewhere.
“The national youth vote choice for the U.S. House of Representatives was 63% for Democrats, 35% for Republicans,” the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) reported, citing exit polls. “That’s almost identical to 2020, when youth preferred Democrats to Republicans by 62% to 36%, and a small shift in favor of Republicans from the previous midterm: in 2018, the youth vote between Democrats and Republicans was 67% to 32%—which was the largest margin ever for Democrats among young voters.”
The Florida GOP’s portion of the key demographic was up nine percentage points over the 2018 midterms, when DeSantis was first elected governor, according to an AP VoteCast survey. Democrats’ share of Florida’s 18-29 vote dropped 14 percentage points to 44% over the same period.
In comparison, in Pennsylvania 54% of the youth vote went for Democrats in 2022 while only 43% for Republicans. The Democrats only lost five points from 2018 while the GOP gained four points. The younger vote heavily influenced the Keystone State’s close Senate election with 70% of voters aged 18-29 choosing Democrat John Fetterman over Republican Mehmet Oz.
In Georgia, the youth vote was 54%-43% Democrats over Republicans, with the Democrats losing eight points and the GOP gaining the same amount since 2018. In Arizona, the Democratic margin was a whopping 57%-38%, with the Democrats having lost five points since 2018 and the GOP gaining five points.
The impact of the 18-29 vote could press the GOP to seek a candidate with a proven appeal to the age group, although DeSantis, 44, has not indicated if he intends to seek his party’s presidential nomination in 2024.
“According to this exit poll data, youth ages 18-29 are the only age group in which a strong majority supported Democrats,” CIRCLE noted.
Exit polls in Arizona showed a dramatic break for Democrats in the key group, despite the GOP’s youthful candidate, Blake Masters. Incumbent Mark Kelly garnered more than three-quarters of the under-30 vote.
“The youth vote is interesting, because we know when they show up they tend to be more progressive, they tend to be to the Left,” Fox News’ Shannon Bream commented. “There’s always this pooh-poohing about whether they’re actually showing up, because we hear this ‘rock the vote’ and this stuff every time, but it looks like they’re there in bigger numbers than people actually expected. They did show up.”