I’ll be asking myself three questions this morning after Tuesday’s midterm elections: Did Democrats take control of the House of Representatives? Did young voters show up at the polls? Will women increase their numbers in Congress?

Of course, the number one question is control of Congress. Pre-election predictions had Democrats taking the majority of seats in the House and Republicans holding onto the majority in the Senate. The big question this morning is likely to be how big or small each majority will be. More than likely, however, we will not be able to answer this question precisely as many races this morning may still be too close to call.


Question two: Did young voters finally show up to vote? This is the question Geoffrey Skelley, writing for fivethirtyeight.com, recently wondered. Skelley defined young voters as 18- to 29-year-olds and they consistently have the lowest voting turnout of all age groups. In fact, research on voting shows a direct correlation between age and a person’s likelihood of voting. The older you are, the more likely you voted in yesterday’s elections.

Fivethirtyeight.com, using data from Current Population Survey, looked at four age groups: 18-29, 30-44, 45-64, and age 65 and older. Typically, mid-term elections (elections that are held in between presidential election cycles) have lower turnout rates than presidential election cycles. The average midterm turnout for all eligible voters since 1998 has been between 40 and 45 percent. For presidential elections, the turnout is usually between 55 and 60 percent. For example, in 2016, our last presidential election, turnout was about 58 percent.

Only about 20 to 25 percent of young voters, 18 to 29 years of age, have voted in recent mid-term elections prior to yesterday. In comparison, it is not uncommon for 60 percent of eligible voters 65 and older to vote. This is good news for Republicans who do well with older voters and bad news for Democrats who do well with young voters. For example, in 2016, young voters supported candidate Hillary Clinton by about 20 points over candidate Donald Trump.

A pre-election Gallup poll reported that 26 percent of young voters between 18 and 29 said that they were “absolutely certain to vote” in yesterday’s election. A second pre-election poll from Public Religion Research Institute found that 35 percent of young voters said they were certain to vote. Other data showed an increased interest among young voters, such as an increase in young voter participation in the 2017 and 2018 special elections. For example, in Virginia’s off-year gubernatorial election of 2017, 34 percent of young voters voted. This was more than double the usual young voter turnout rate for gubernatorial elections in Virginia.

The Institute of Politics (IOP) at the Harvard Kennedy School found that Americans ages 18 to 29 have very strong feelings about current political issues. A recent poll by the IOP found that 72 percent of them did not approve of President Donald Trump‘s performance. These would be good signs for Democrats if the youth of our nation showed up to vote.

Question three: Will women increase their numbers in Congress? Congress currently includes 84 women in the House and 23 women in the Senate for a total of 107 women in the 115th Congress. While this is an all-time high for women in Congress, the numbers are poor when you consider that women make up 51 percent of our population.

To start, a record number of women were running for elected positions yesterday in national and state races. The Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University reported that 262 women were on the ballot yesterday for positions in the House and Senate, up from 181 in 2016. Pre-election projections had women winning a record number of seats for the 116th Congress starting in January 2019, picking up between 20 and 40 seats in Congress. In addition, 42 women were on state ballots for governor and lieutenant governor, up from eight in 2016. I look forward to seeing how many more women we will have in elected positions after yesterday’s election.

Was this the year of the women? Did young people finally find their voice in American politics? If the answer is “Yes” to both of these questions, then I know the answer to my first question.