Ross: Young voters are key to Democrat wins, if they can get a high turnout

Nov 21, 2022, 7:28 AM | Updated: 9:11 am

young voters...

Oscar Ponteri of Teens for Tina (L) casts his first-ever election ballot with Democratic gubernatorial nominee Tina Kotek at a ballot drop box on November 2, 2022 in Portland, Oregon. Oregon's 2022 gubernatorial race has garnered national attention in recent weeks as Kotek's Republican opponent, Christine Drazan, has risen in the polls to draw within striking distance of victory. Oregon has not elected a Republican governor since 1982. (Photo by Mathieu Lewis-Rolland/Getty Images)

(Photo by Mathieu Lewis-Rolland/Getty Images)

I saw a story from Bloomberg news crediting young voters for helping Democrats hang on to the Senate.

It said that young voters “delivered on President Joe Biden’s hopes they would turn out in the mid-terms” and that voters under 30 were decisive in hanging onto that Senate seat in Nevada and keeping Senator Warnock’s hopes alive in Georgia.

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And so I’m thinking, wow – young voters are finally turning out in huge numbers!

And then, in the fourth paragraph, the actual number was revealed: 27%.

27% of voters ages 18-29 cast ballots.

That’s the second-highest turnout in 30 years, and the Democrats are happy because most of those votes apparently went their way– but a 27% turnout is a really low bar.

Washington state breaks down the age demographics differently but follows a similar pattern. Most young people don’t show up. The highest turnout in Washington is the over-65 vote – just over 83% this year. The lowest turnout – 18-24 at 38.6%.

That’s significantly higher than the national average, but… it’s nowhere near a majority of young voters. They were the least represented group in the last election.

Which explains why not much is being done on issues like climate change – the decision-makers are being chosen by voters who won’t be around when the consequences kick in.

Biden’s college loan forgiveness is already in trouble in the courts – and I won’t be surprised if it fizzles out because the decision-makers were chosen mostly by voters whose last tuition payment was about 50 years ago.

Even here in Washington State, with our 38% turnout among young people – that still means that about 270,000 ballots mailed to registered voters ages 18 to 24 went unused. The postage-paid envelope and the ballot – just thrown away.

So to the 18-24 age group, I want to say– you’re smart. You can see that the world is in turmoil, and you blame us old people for making the choices that got us here. We probably deserve it – so go ahead and blame us.

But you’re the ones throwing out your ballots and letting us get away with it.

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News with Dave Ross and Colleen O’Brien weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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