Voter registration among Americans aged 18-29 surged nationwide following the February mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida that killed 17 people and spurred a youth-led movement for strengthening gun control laws, which has featured school walkouts, marches, town halls, and voter registration drives across the country.
"The young people will win."
—David Hogg, Parkland survivor
The data firm TargetSmart analyzed voter registration information from 38 states and D.C., and found that registration rates for youth voters "have significantly increased in key battleground states over the last seven months," which could have remarkable consequences for candidates who are running for political office this year.
As TargetSmart CEO Tom Bonier put it, "It remains to be seen how many of these younger registrants will cast a ballot in November, but they are poised to have a louder voice than ever in these critical midterm elections."
"A new generation of political leaders emerged in the aftermath of the Parkland tragedy," Bonier added. "We witnessed their ability to organize in Florida and across the country as massive crowds took to the streets for the March for Our Lives, and now we're seeing a quantifiable impact from that organizing."
The analysis shows that the greatest spikes were in Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, New York, Virginia, Indiana, Arizona, and Florida.
As the Miami Herald reported, "The registration increase comes after billionaire Tom Steyer announced that NextGen America, a group that seeks to elect Democrats to office, would spend at least $3.5 million in Florida on youth organizing while funding staffers on college campuses around the state."
NextGen America executive director Heather Hargreaves told the Herald that "as the largest eligible voting bloc, young people have the power to make the difference in critical races across the country, and it is clear that they are energized like never before to make their voices heard."
Hargreaves added that NextGen America, which has a national reach, "has already registered over 17,000 young people to vote in Florida this year alone."
"The young people will win," David Hogg, who survived the Parkland shooting and has emerged as a vocal advocate for reforming gun laws, tweeted in response to the analysis:
— David Hogg (@davidhogg111) July 19, 2018
The new analysis from TargetSmart—which provides services to Democratic and progressive campaigns—follows a May report from the New York Times that found, based on data for March and April, "young registrants represented a higher portion of new voters in Florida, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania, among other states."
The Times noted that "the trend was particularly stark in Broward County, site of the mass shooting in Parkland."