I know, we’ve heard it before but this time it might be different.

Courtesy of CNN:

Politics is in realignment. And perhaps the most underappreciated change is this: Based on recent research at Tufts University’s Tisch College of Civic Life, young voters, ages 18-29, played a significant role in the 2018 midterms and are poised to shape elections in 2020 and beyond.

For decades, this age bracket has turned out at lower rates than older voters, particularly in midterm elections. While experts have often attributed this to apathy, a complicated set of reasons may explain low turnout, including barriers to access, suppression, waning civic education and historic disadvantages. Despite these headwinds, 2018 marked a turning point.

In 2018, the youth vote increased in all 42 states for which youth voting data is available, according to the analysis by researchers at Tufts’ Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE). Based on this available data, which represents 94% of the American youth population, Tisch College researchers estimate 28.2% of young people nationwide voted in 2018 — more than double the national youth turnout in 2014.

Turnout among college students — an important subset of the youth vote — was even more impressive in 2018, at 40.3%. Research also showed that young voters preferred Democrat House candidates by 35 points, a massive margin that helped Democrats win back the House and far exceeded the highest gap of 27 points from 2008.

This article caught my eye because it closely parallels a discussion I had with my daughter about the youth vote. 

She claimed that the young people would ensure that Bernie Sanders would win the general if he were the Democratic candidate, but she was not at all convinced they could be counted on by any other candidate.

So, of course,I pointed out that the youth vote was notoriously unreliable.

To this she responded that perhaps that was the case for your everyday average Democratic candidate but that Bernie was speaking to them directly and then mentioned AOC as a person who understood the younger voter better than perhaps any other politician, and that she was helping Bernie in that area. 

My daughter also claimed that there were rumors among the kids that Bernie was going to pick Ocasio-Cortez as his running mate and that if he did that the ticket would be unbeatable. 

She was a little crestfallen to learn that AOC is still too young to a VP nominee, but remains convinced that Sanders is the one candidate who would rally the youth vote better than any other. 

I also learned that her college friends said that the other candidates simply do not take them seriously and rarely work the college campuses the way they do church groups, labor unions, or older voters. 

Which if accurate makes this next part of that CNN article especially interesting:

Both parties have long tried to activate young voters, but with limited success. In 2018, however, Katie Porter, a law professor at the University of California, Irvine who won California’s 45th congressional district, hired an organizer specifically for campus outreach and campaigned on college campuses in the area.

In April 2018, Porter’s campaign had been listed in the Youth Electoral Significance Index, produced by Tisch College’s CIRCLE, as one of the top congressional races where young people could make the biggest impact, because of its youth population, prevalence of colleges, voter registration rates, historic turnout rates and turnout patterns where young people historically vote differently than older voters. Indeed, turnout in precincts on or near the UC Irvine campus surged in 2018, and outreach among young people has been credited as one reason for her victory.

I would think that working to engage the college voters would be a thing that the Democratic party was already prioritizing. 

As a group perhaps the only demographic that dislikes Donald Trump as much as the young people are African American voters and women voters. 

If the Democrats want to win in 2020, they really cannot afford to leave any voter behind.

And yes that includes the notoriously unreliable youth vote.