Republicans predicted a “red wave” that would crush any hopes of a Democratic majority this election cycle. But as the dust settles and the vote count has been finalized, that prediction has been shattered.
While Republicans saw success in states like Florida and New York, Democrats fared better in battlefield states, where polls often significantly underestimate their support. On the eve of the elections, Thirty-fiveEight‘s poll average had Dr. Mehmet Oz only half a point ahead, only to see him lose by 4 percent in the end. In Michigan, the same average placed only incumbent Governor Gretchen Whitmer five points ahead of her Republican challenger; but on Election Day, she won by more than 10 points.
Many Democratic strategists and White House officials have attributed the discrepancy to a record number of young people who voted this year, a demographic leaning predominantly toward Democrat. About 27 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 voted on Election Day an early estimate from the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University, also known as CIRCLE.
As recently as 2014 and decades ago, the turnout among young people was around 20 percent on an annual basis. But that changed in 2018 when the youth turnout peaked 16 percentup to 36 percent in total.
Not everyone is convinced. David Shor, a popular Democratic data guru, argued that there has been no ‘Youthquake’ since the rise decreased among young people in 2022 compared to 2018 numbers. But even if that’s the case, early exit polls show that while young people may not have appeared en masse everywhere, they really got out where it mattered most to Democrats. In nine competing states, including Michigan and Pennsylvania, CIRCLE . exit polls have suggest total youth turnout reached 31 percent1 percent higher than the 2018 national average.
“It’s a combination of technology and then just missing the story about what’s happening in this country.”
As late as 2014, political strategists and pollsters could easily assume that youth turnout would decline mid-term, leading to busy personal lives, cumbersome work schedules and a lack of urgency in non-presidential elections. By 2024, Gen Z and millennials are expected to outnumber baby boomers in votes. But survey agencies have yet to develop ways to reach them.
“It’s a combination of technology and then just missing the story about what’s happening in this country,” said Max Lubin, CEO of Rise, a student-run nonprofit that advocates for free college. The edge on Wednesday.
Robocalls and text messages have exploded in recent years. In general, pollsters rely on people to answer their calls or click on the links they send via text to complete their surveys.
Americans got more than 6 billion robocalls in October alone, including nearly 25 million political robocalls and 1.29 billion political robotexts, according to RoboKiller, an app that blocks spam calls and text messages.
“Young people are more astute and ignore the left more than other people,” John Ray, poll director at YouGov told Blue. The edge this week. “Their discipline with their devices is much better.”
Polls have evolved over the past decade to catch up with the rise of social media platforms in popularity with young people, but experts suggest companies haven’t gone far enough. Meta’s ad targeting tools have enabled polling agencies to reach younger voters on platforms like Facebook and Instagram, but the service’s targeting accuracy has declined over time, especially for iPhone users after Apple has changed its privacy and third-party data permissions last year.
“Facebook is very much in decline, but it’s at such a high point and will probably be at the end of this coming cycle,” Ray said.
Unlike corporate marketing agencies, political pollsters with much tighter budgets operate with an even greater demand for accurate data returns, making experiments to reach a younger audience that much more difficult. But the possibility of robocalling and texting rules on the horizon, as well as stricter online privacy regulations, could force polling agencies to adapt to more non-traditional platforms like YouTube.
“This cycle, I’m telling people to figure out what their strategy is going to be for Discord, for Twitter,” Ray said. “We’re exploring more ways to recruit people to surveys from the YouTube channels they watch.”
In the days leading up to the 2022 midterm elections, Snap released a new Snapchat lens that encouraged users to take surveys similar to exit polls that would appear in their Stories. While the surveys aren’t as scientific as those from professional companies, the data collected can help Snap, whose users are predominantly younger, to fill the void in the youth poll.
“Surveys are stuck in an outdated mindset that young people don’t show up,” Lubin . said The edge. “And while young people broke attendance records between 2018 and 2020, and I expect we’ll see some record-breaking new attendance figures this year, pollsters remain trapped in this conventional wisdom.”
In states like Michigan, hundreds of students queued for hours to vote and circled college campuses on Election Day. Democratic chief executive Gretchen Whitmer was in a tight race against her Trump-approved Republican opponent Tudor Dixon. The polls had them neck and neck. In the end, Whitmer secured re-election by more than 10 points, according to The New York Times.
“Right now, polls are often wishful thinking,” said Michigan Democratic Party communications director Rodericka Applewhaite. The edge on Wednesday. “Pollsters will have to do a lot of searching on how to stay relevant in this area.”