Young Iowans set voting records in 2018, still lag behind older voters
New figures from the Iowa Secretary of State show that a record number of youth voters turned out in the 2018 Midterm Elections. It's the kind of data that pleases groups like NextGen Iowa, which tried to encourage college students to get out and vote. "It's kind of validating that all of the conversations we've been having on college campuses." Said Trent Seubert with NextGen.
When you compare voter turnout by 18-34 year old Iowans to the share of the overall population they make up, the representation in the 2018 voting public was about even. While that's good, Iowans of retirement age and older make up more than 30% of all voters, despite making up about half that percentage of the population. So why the disparity? The key reason is Iowa's youth. Nearly a quarter of all Iowans are below 18, making them ineligible to vote. As a result, senior citizens get more influence over the vote than their share of the population. That might explain why politicians target them more for crucial votes. "There's no doubt that politicians in general tend to cater to an older audience just because those are the people who tend to show up to vote, i think that's one of the reasons why social security for example hasn't changed in so long." Says Justin Wasson, Chair of the Linn County GOP.
Everyone admits more work is needed to encourage everyone to vote, but groups like NextGen say they're not giving up. "Presidential candidates and their campaigns should take young people seriously here in Iowa and across the country because they can't win without young people in 2020."