There are an estimated 8.3 million newly eligible young voters for the 2022 midterm elections — meaning, youth who have turned 18 since the previous general election in November 2020. These 18- and 19-year-olds comprise 16 percent of the 18-29 age group for the 2022 election. They include approximately 4.5 million white youth and 3.8 million youth of color: 2 million Latinos, 1.2 million Black youth, 500,000 Asians, and 80,000 Native Americans.
While approximately 63 percent of all U.S. residents over 18 are white, 54 percent of newly eligible voters are. Black and, especially, Latino youth make up a larger share of these new members of the electorate. In every region of the country, Latinos make up a larger share of the ages 18-19 electorate than of all residents over age 18.
More than 122 million people cast ballots in 2018’s races, with a 51.4 percent turnout rate among African Americans, according to the Pew Research Center.
Understanding the characteristics of new voters in different parts of the country, the challenges to engaging them, and their potential to influence election results is key to growing them into voters. Given their racial/ethnic diversity, it’s also vital for expanding the electorate and creating a more equitable, multiracial democracy.
A recent Washington Post-Ipsos poll found 7 in 10 approve of the president’s job performance, down 8 percentage points from the previous year. Sixty percent of those surveyed said the Mr. Biden is keeping most of his campaign promises, while 37 percent said he has not.
In 2013, when Chief Justice John Roberts delivered the Supreme Court’s majority opinion in Shelby County v. Holder, he argued that the Voting Rights Act of 1965’s preclearance requirement under Section 5 was no longer needed because “African-American voter turnout has come to exceed white voter turnout in five of the six States [Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina] originally covered by §5 with a gap in the sixth State of less than one half of one percent [Virginia].” Although this was true in 2012 — and only 2012 — the white-Black turnout gap in these states reopened in subsequent years, and by 2020, white turnout exceeded Black turnout in five of the six states.
In the past 25 years, half the states have changed their laws and practices to expand voting access to people with felony convictions. Despite these important reforms, 5.2 million Americans remain disenfranchised, 2.3 percent of the voting age population.