Researchers say young NC voters could impact 2020 elections


NORTH CAROLINA (WNCT) There are 117 days left until election day. Many political scientists are studying voter groups to see how they could affect this year’s election results. Researchers at Tufts University looked at young voters across America. They found voters in our state between the ages 18 to 29 have the potential to influence the outcome of two federal 2020 elections.

Their survey results are part of what they call the “Youth Electoral Significance Index“. It ranks North Carolina youth voters 3rd in the U.S. for potential influence on the 2020 presidential election and 2nd for the U.S senate races. Their findings are based on indicators like the race itself, past election results, and past youth participation.

“It’s a lost opportunity for people to be ignoring young people. Because they have not only a significant ability to work for campaigns. We’ve seen volunteering on campaigns triple over the past four years. But young people can be talking to other young people, talking to their families, translating information from their family,” said Abby Kiesa, Director of Impact, CIRCLE, Tufts University

North Carolina ranks high in part because it’s projected to be one of the most competitive states in the presidential election. North Carolina had high turnout by younger voters in the last two presidential elections. They also point to the 2014 U.S Senate race in our state. That’s when republican challenger Thom Tillis won a close victory over democratic incumbent Kay Hagan. Researchers say with Tillis’ narrow margin of victory then and a large number of young voters this year, that group could help decide this year’s senate race.

Kiesa says since the 2018 midterm election, more than 50% of young voters have worked to convince others in their age group to vote. 25% have actively worked to register young voters. Since the 2016 presidential election, the number of youth participation in protests and rallies has increased five-fold.

“I think young people care about a lot of different things including federal elections. We’ve seen over the past 6 weeks young people are not apathetic. This is something youth organizers have known for a really long time. So when it comes to voting largely we are dealing with issues of access, not apathy,” said Kiesa

Kiesa adds North Carolina has about 400,000 young Black voters. Her team is interested to see how young people of color will impact election results, something that group has done for the last decade. She shares that Black and Latinx women are heavily involved in voter drives and other mobilization efforts.

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