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Young voters are poised to flip a key Ohio district from red to blue

More than 10,000 young people have registered to vote in Ohio’s 12th Congressional District since February — and they could help elect Danny O’Connor to Congress.

By Dan Desai Martin - October 28, 2018
Danny O'Connor

If the thousands of young people who registered to vote in Ohio show up at the polls, they could help a deep-red district in Ohio suddenly turn blue.

Republican Rep. Troy Balderson defeated Democrat Danny O’Connor by less than 2,000 votes in an August special election.

But 10,000 young people aged 18-22 have registered to vote in that district just since February of this year — including 6,000 young people who registered after July 10.

While those 6,000 new voters registered too late to participate in the special election, they now “have the green light to vote in the Nov. 6 rematch between Balderson and O’Connor for a full two-year term in the U.S. House,” the Columbus Dispatch reports.

2018 has seen a sharp increase in young people registering to vote nationwide, especially in light of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

And O’Connor, who supports common-sense gun safety measures, hopes to earn the votes of these young people.

Of course, as the Dispatch noted, one big question remains: will these newly registered young people actually show up to vote?

The answer seems to be that many of them will, according to research from the The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) at Tufts University.

CIRCLE has studied voting behavior of young people for 20 years, and their most recent research indicates “a surge in political engagement, intention to vote and outreach between friends to encourage voting,” said Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg, CIRCLE’s director.

CIRCLE’s research focuses on young people aged 18-24, a slightly different age range than the Dispatch reported on.

In a recent survey, 34 percent of young voters said they are extremely likely to vote in November. Kawashima-Ginsberg notes that “data from previous surveys we’ve done using this approach have been close to actual turnout numbers.”

And higher youth turnout is good for Democrats like O’Connor. CIRCLE’s survey shows only 26 percent of young voters plan on supporting Republicans, with a much higher 45 percent supporting Democrats.

O’Connor recently said he hopes to gain momentum from college students who may not have been in the district during the early August special election, but who are now returning to start the school year at institutions like Ohio State, Otterbein, and Ohio Wesleyan.

Balderson, a loyal Trump supporter, won in August by just over 1,700 votes. A recent poll shows the race between Balderson and O’Connor tied, with 47 percent supporting each candidate.

If young people show up on Nov. 6, they could make all the difference in this closely watched race.

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