Fresh Minds Bring a Fresh Mindset to the Polls


The 2022 Midterm Election season has come to an end in Virginia. A rise in young voters continued with the 2022 midterm that was first noticed in 2018, welcoming new precedents for election season.

The Midterm election took place on Nov. 8, 2022. This election allowed for voters across the country to select new seat holders for congress and new governors in certain states. Legislation for key issues such as inflation, crime, climate change, abortion, immigration, jobs, college loans, and others were on the ballot across all 50 states. Midterm election, or “off year”, voter turnout is more often lower than high profile presidential elections; however, since the 2018 midterm elections, younger voters have been proving this assumption wrong, as more young voters are showing up to midterm elections. 

Seniors at Potomac Falls who turned 18 before election day had the privilege of casting their vote in the 2022 midterm. And the younger population showed up significantly on election day. According to NPR, the turnout among young voters in the 2022 midterms was the second highest for a midterm in the past 30 years. Senior Ellie Campbell said “I felt it was important to vote in this election because I am a part of a new group of teenagers that get to use their voice in a different way.” 

Although the midterms typically have less voter turnout than a presidential election, participation is still important, and young people who are becoming more civically engaged are realizing that. According to Social Sciences teacher Kira Hoilman, “The midterm elections are important because they are often seen as a reflection of how the public feels about the president and the president’s party.  The midterm elections are also important because it is a chance for the entire country to elect or re-elect their Representative to the House and one third of the country is also electing their Senators.”

Hoilman encourages her students to vote as soon as they are able to because although it is typically the age group with the lowest turnout, the decisions that are made by lawmakers will affect these citizens directly. “I believe that so many individuals and groups have fought long and hard, overcoming serious obstacles, to gain the right to vote and the efforts of the past are memorialized through voting. It is important for young people to vote because the issues that matter to them are often overlooked by candidates and government officials because this is traditionally the age group that turns out in the lowest numbers,” said Hoilman. 

The past four years have marked a period of record high young voter turnout, with 2018 still holding the top spot as the year with the highest ever youth voter turnout, with 31% of people between ages 18-29 casting a ballot. With a rise in young voters, the results of elections have also shifted, with voters in their teens and twenties having an influence over the results of midterm races in swing states.

In states like Florida, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, turnout was roughly 31% among young voters, according to NPR. It is thought to be the result of outreach and higher levels of civic engagement in young people in these states, where midterm races were highly contested and publicized.

This new era of young voters may also be ushering in new political expectations in these swing states, with the democratic party doing better than expected in this year’s midterm, possibly due to the high turnout in young voters. The 2022 midterms were expected to result in a “red wave,” due to the precedent of the election of the president’s political party losing seats in the midterms. However, this was not the case in 2022, with key races resulting in more democratic winners than expected. 

This rise in young voters could be the cause of the democratic success in the election. Polls from CNN politics show that a historically large age gap of young voters backed democratic candidates. An exit poll from CNN Politics showed that House Democratic candidates won voters under 30 by 28 points. 

The rise in civic engagement and interest from young voters could be due to their increased presence on social media, and their knowledge of understanding how to use social media in order to learn new information about current political affairs. Issues like abortion, gun control, and climate change are all relayed through social media and end up on the mental radars of these young voters. 

The presence of social media also motivates young voters to conduct their own research on political candidates before casting their votes.

I was in my DE Government class when Mr. Pelczar turned on the Jennifer Wexton and Hung Cao debate. I found that Jennifer Wexton made more logical arguments than Hung Cao. I found her website and looked through her policies and found that her viewpoints made the most sense to me,” said Campbell.

The role that young voters had in this year’s midterms will not soon be forgotten, as they are bringing a new determined mindset to the political playing field and proving that they will show up for what they believe in.