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The 2018 midterms featured historic levels of youth voting and engagement. From early in the election cycle, young people got involved in electoral outreach and political activism—many motivated by the tragic school shooting in Parkland, Florida. As young people marched, and as both parties tried to engage youth in one of the most consequential midterm elections in recent memory, the youth vote became a topic of national conversation. Social media giants like Snapchat got involved, ride-share companies like Lyft and Uber offered free rides to the polls, and celebrities encouraged youth to register and vote. On Election Day, young people delivered: youth voter turnout doubled from 2014 to the highest rate in recent memory, and young voters' support for Democratic candidates undoubtedly helped create the "blue wave" that swept across the House of Representatives.

Explore our most important data, analysis, and commentary on the 2018 election:

Quick Facts

  • Youth Turnout: We estimate that 28% of eligible young voters (ages 18-29) cast a ballot in 2018, more than doubling our estimated 13% youth turnout in the 2014 midterms. Note: The 28% estimate, calculated using more reliable data not available immediately after the election, replaces our earlier estimate of 31% youth turnout.
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  • Youth Choice: Nationally, young people favored Democratic candidates for the House of Representatives by a historic margin: 67% to 32%

Latest 2018 Research

Major 2018 Research Areas

State by State: Youth Turnout Up and Decisive

Starting on Election Night, we explored how the youth vote was influential in competitive Senate and Governor races all across the country—whether helping the Democratic candidate earn a close victory in places like Montana and Wisconsin, or keeping it close in traditionally Republican strongholds like Georgia and Texas:

In early 2019, with newly available voter file data, we published a remarkable finding: compared to the previous midterms in 2014, youth participation in 2018 increased in all 42 states for which we could calculate turnout. In most states it increased by double digits and exceeded the increase in turnout among older voters.

From Parkland to the Polls: Activism and Voting

One of the most significant aspects of the 2018 election was the emergence and influence of youth-led activist movements—particularly the gun-violence prevention movement following the school shooting in Parkland, Florida. Through our exclusive polling and additional research, we tracked the potential impact of this renewed activism which focused explicitly on registering young people to vote, and we found that it was part of a broader sentiment among youth who were dissatisfied with the state of American politics and willing to take it upon themselves to change it.

Exclusive CIRCLE Polling

In 2018, we conducted a poll of young people ages 18-24 before and after the election. This exclusive CIRCLE survey informed much of our research throughout the election cycle, particularly about young people's increasing sense of political efficacy and engagement in activism (see above). Our polling also revealed insights on whether young people were paying attention to the election and intended to vote, who they supported, their feelings about political parties, the influence of social media, and more.

2018 Research in the News