Young Voters in the 2022 Midterms
U.S. elections in 2018 and 2020 both saw record turnout for young voters ages 18-29. However, growing skepticism about election fairness and the U.S. government in general could pose a threat to this upward trajectory. Case in point: In a July 2022 New York Times survey, 56% of voters ages 18-29 said they think America’s system of government needs major reforms or a complete overhaul, and 70% said they believe America’s political system is too divided to solve its problems.
It can be easy to see numbers like this and assume that younger generations are already too disillusioned with the system to take any meaningful action. Going into this study, we wondered—or perhaps feared—if this group of voters is already too disappointed in the system to return to the polls, or if strategic efforts combined with super-charged issues like the economy, Roe v. Wade, gun control, climate change, racism and more could be the force young Americans need to get out and vote this November.
With this in mind, the Ad Council Research Institute (ACRI) and MTV Entertainment (MTVE) embarked on a partnership this year to get a better understanding of the voting attitudes and perceptions among younger Millennials and voting-eligible members of Gen Z on the 2022 midterm elections, and to understand what brands and causes can do to motivate and encourage them to vote.
Key Data Points
- Over half of young people plan to vote in the 2022 midterms—with an additional fifth undecided.
- The majority of young Americans (59%) reported in the survey that they’re planning to vote in the 2022 midterm elections, with an additional 21% so far undecided—indicating that at least a fifth of young Americans can still be swayed to cast their vote this November. (Of the 20% not planning to vote, 15% are not eligible to do so, due to age or another factor.)
- More than half (55%) of young Americans believe it’s their duty as a citizen to vote in every election, and that voting is a way for their voice to be heard.
- However, they also expressed some negative sentiment about the voting system and voting general: Political elections are too influenced by money (65%), elections have too much corruption (62%), campaigning never seems to end (58%). Less than half trust that every vote counts (45%) or believe that their vote will make a difference (43%); even fewer trust the security of the voting process (41%), or believe that nothing will change regardless of who they vote for (40%).
- Young voters recognize the importance of researching before voting—and a third have already started.
- The majority of young voters (69%) say it’s important to research candidates/issues on the ballot before voting. Most (62%) begin or plan to begin the research process at least a month before voting, while a third (34%) have already begun. Overall, just over half (54%) said it’s easy to find information on how to vote in person. Fewer (45%) said it’s easy to find information on how to vote by mail, and more than a third (39%) admit to being overwhelmed by the voting process and the news/information available.