Early data shows young voters came out big for Pa.’s Shapiro, Fetterman

The nationwide youth surge was specifically led by young people of color

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate John Fetterman addresses supporters in Pittsburgh on Tuesday, 11/8/22 (Capital-Star photo by Kim Lyons)

By John L. Micek

Pennsylvania’s younger voters, those aged 18-29, helped power Democratic U.S. Sen.-elect John Fetterman and Gov.-elect Josh Shapiro to victory on Tuesday night over their Republican challengers.

The advocacy group that released the data, NextGen America, are crediting younger voters for Democrats’ over-performance in the 2022 midterm elections, countering an expected “red wave” from Republicans that instead could see Democrats hold their majority in the U.S. Senate, and contain losses in the U.S. House.

With key races still too close to call, control of both chambers was still unknown on Thursday, the Capital-Star’s Washington Bureau reported.

But early data do show that younger voters preferred Democrats over Republicans by a 28-point margin (63-35 percent), according to Tufts University’s Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE).

About 27 percent of voters aged 18-29 cast a ballot in Tuesday’s election, according to CIRCLE data, making this midterm cycle the second-highest youth voter turnout in almost three decades.

Those voters were particularly pivotal in the nationally watched contest between Fetterman, Pennsylvania’s current lieutenant governor, and Mehmet Oz, the celebrity physician who came into the race with the endorsement of former President Donald Trump.

According to the CIRCLE data, the state’s younger voters, whose turnout mirrored national trends, favored Fetterman by 19 points, contributing 120,000 net votes to Fetterman’s 185,000-vote victory.

The same dynamic held true in the race for Pennsylvania’s governor’s office: Younger voters preferred Shapiro by 26 points over Republican Doug Mastriano, the CIRCLE data showed.

“Up and down the ballot, young Pennsylvanians showed up and turned out for progressive candidates like never before this election,” NextGen PAC president and executive director Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez said in an email.

Fetterman is “a true youth-vote candidate, and NextGen could not be more excited to celebrate his victory,” Tzintzún Ramirez continued. “Young people believe in a future that is more equitable, more just, and more inclusive, and they voted for candidates like Fetterman and Shapiro who promised to uphold these beliefs and create a better Pennsylvania for all.”

Nationwide, younger voters were the only age group to prefer Democrats in U.S. House races — a finding that was buttressed by exit polls.

Younger voters preferred Democrats 63-35 percent, according to exit polling by the Edison Research National Election Pool exit poll. The result was almost identical to 2020’s 62-36 percent margin, the CIRCLE data indicated.

Voters aged 30-44 split their tickets 49-49 percent, while older voters favored the GOP, according to CIRCLE.

While state-level data on race and ethnicity were not immediately available, “nationally 89 percent of Black youth and 68 percent of Latino youth voted for a Democratic candidate in the U.S. House of Representatives, compared to 58 percent of white youth,” according to the CIRCLE analysis.

John L. Micek is the editor of the Pennsylvania Capital-Star, where this article first appeared.

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