In recent years, the ever-changing voting demographics in American politics have had a major influence on election results. These changes lie primarily in the number of women voting and the voting tendencies of minority voters.
Dr. Jim Hedtke, political science and history professor, said, “One of the things we’ve seen is that we have more women voting, and a greater number of women voting than men.”
Rutgers University’s Center for American Women and Politics reported that women in the United States are registered to vote at higher rates than men. The same trend is true for non-presidential elections as well, with more women than men voting since 1986.
Certain racial demographics have changed as well. “You also see that there are more African American voters,” Hedtke said. “This is beginning to make a change in some of the southern states like Georgia, and I think you’re going to see changes in North Carolina.” President Biden won the state of Georgia in the 2020 presidential election, while Barack Obama won in North Carolina in 2008.
Speaking specifically about Florida, Hedtke said, “Republicans have made some inroads with Latino and Latina votes against the Democrats, and that’s a big deal in a state like Florida. They have a large number of electoral votes, and a large number of members of the House of Representatives.”
Hedtke said, “Florida, which used to be pretty much a given for the Democrats, has now flipped to the Republicans, and it’s not just the white voters and the older voters, it’s the Latino and Latina votes there.”
There are also differences in how people vote based on where they live within a state. Speaking about Pennsylvania, Hedtke said, “If you’re in the Philadelphia area, it’s going to be Democratic. If you’re in Pittsburgh, it’s going to be Democratic. The rest of the state is going to go Republican.”
Looking ahead to November
The 2022 midterm elections are bringing several major issues to the forefront. Among them are the economy, public safety, and abortion rights. Pennsylvanians will vote to replace outgoing Republican Sen. Pat Toomey, as well as to elect a new governor to replace Tom Wolf, who is nearing the end of his second term.
Running for Senate are Republican Dr. Mehmet Oz, and Democrat John Fetterman, the current lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania. Republican State Sen. Doug Mastriano will face Josh Shapiro, the current attorney general of Pennsylvania, in the race for the governorship.
Abortion rights will likely be fresh on the minds of Pennsylvania voters, especially women, following the overturning of Roe v. Wade in June.
Why is voting important?
In the 2020 presidential election, voter turnout among people 18-24 was the lowest of all age brackets. Ages 65-74 had the highest voter turnout of all age brackets. “I think it’s important to vote because I think participatory democracy really works. We have, in most elections, 70 percent of people who don’t vote, while 30 percent of the people are getting just what they want. The 70 percent are out there moaning about what they’re not getting,” Hedtke said, “[voting is] the easiest way to express what you want.”
Emma Law, sophomore history and political science major, said, “When you think about the people that have struggled and fought, why wouldn’t you go out and vote? There are so many people around the world who would give anything to vote in their country, and a lot of people in the U.S. just don’t.”
A phenomenon in U.S. elections occurs between how many people vote for president, versus how many vote in elections for lower-level positions. “If you look at presidential elections, turnout’s somewhere between 49 to 62 percent. But if you look at this [midterm] election, probably somewhere between 30 to 40 percent of the people are going to vote in 2022,” Hedtke said.
The Pennsylvania Midterm Elections will take place on Nov. 8, 2022. Polls are open from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m.