Maggie Horzempa, a member of UNC College Republicans and the president of the UNC Network of Enlightened Women, said she thinks older people tend to vote more than young people because they have more time to become politically aware.
“They have the time to do more research because there’s not going to be a lot of media coverage on midterm and primary elections,” Horzempa said.
Voter turnout among Republicans tends to be higher than Democrats. In the 2010 and 2014 midterm races, Republicans were more than 20 percent likelier to vote than Democrats. But analysts have predicted that Democrats have the advantage in the upcoming midterms because, historically, the party in control of the presidency tends to lose to the opposing party in midterm elections.
Alec Dent, the executive vice chair of UNC College Republicans and a member of the DTH editorial board, said he has seen more excitement about the midterms among young liberals rather than young conservatives.
“I think there is excitement from [Trump’s] base, but perhaps not as great in young people of our generation, just because many were so hesitant to support him, if they did at all,” Dent said.
Political science professor James Stimson said the results of the 2016 election will likely create some increase in young voter turnout, but they still will not show up more than older groups.
“Young people will probably show a similar increase, but youth will still have the lowest turnout rates of all age groups,” Stimson said.
Edwards said she has seen greater student activism on campus regarding gun control, which could also signal increased political engagement headed into the midterm elections. Yet she added that the energy from those protests must be directed toward voting.
But Stimson said the heavy media coverage of youth activism exaggerates the idea that there will be significant changes in youth voter turnout.
“Continuing media coverage of young activists is capable of increasing of increasing enthusiasm and turnout, but the change is likely to be incremental rather than massive,” Stimson said.
He also said young people are less likely to vote because they have not established the habit of voting, they tend to not have stable addresses which makes registering more difficult, and because they tend to have weaker partisan attachments than older people.
That's the case for sophomore Melanie Sanchez, who said there are more barriers for young people to vote such as lack of transportation and, for college students, being registered in their hometowns. Political awareness will affect her decision, too — she said she does not think she is familiar enough with the candidates to vote in the midterms.
“I feel an increased desire (to vote), but I don’t know enough about the people that I would be voting for,” she said.