After the midterms, it is often said that campaigning in the fall takes a toll on young people.
But while midterm focus can make students hungry for a different direction, Democrats have reason to worry. With college campuses recently turning largely peaceful and quiet, several could begin to reflect on what the fall will mean for 2020.
The silence on campuses has come thanks to several factors. Students are out of town visiting families and taking elective classes, and classes and coursework are being shortened to minimize the time spent in the library. Also, students take on longer class loads because of extended exam periods.
But beyond the short breaks during the semester, neither classwork nor activism on campus has picked up in the last year — a sign, some say, that college students have accepted their adult lot and started thinking less about politics.
It’s not that they don’t care about politics. In fact, many students are engaged. Many work on campaigns, support candidates and campaign for office. And other students have registered to vote. But a small fraction have ever enrolled in a political campaign, according to data from the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA.
Nearly 40,000 young people voted in the Democratic primary in California, which will be the most likely state to go blue if the cycle repeats itself. But Democrats say they will need to work harder to connect with young voters in the fall, just as they work harder during campaigns for Congress, where young people are more active.
Students’ voting will matter not only because the DNC wants young people to vote. But also because they will work at many campaigns around the country as in-person volunteers, most of them first-time voters. These young people have a competitive advantage in that they have a record of active participation in American politics.
“They are poised and ready to go and to fight for the future of this country,” said Cassie Robinson, the national field director for the Democratic Party of California.