Republicans predicted a “red wave” that would crush any hopes of a Democratic majority this election cycle. As the dust settles, and votes are counted, this prediction is now a bust. Republicans had success in New York and Florida, but Democrats did better in battleground states where polls often underestimated their support. On the eve of the election, FiveThirtyEight’s poll average had Dr. Mehmet Oz ahead by just half a point, only to see him lose by 4 percent in the final tally. The same average in Michigan put incumbent Governor Gretchen Whitmer only five point ahead of her Republican challenger. However, on election day, she won more than 10 percent. Many Democratic strategists and White House officials attribute the discrepancy this year to a record-breaking number of young voters, a demographic that tends to lean Democrat. Around 27 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 cast a ballot by Election Day, according to an early estimate from the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University, also known as CIRCLE. In fact, youth voter turnout has been hovering around 20% year-over-year since 2014, stretching back decades. However, this changed in 2018, when youth turnout jumped 16 percent to 36%. But not everyone is convinced. David Shor, a popular Democratic data guru, argued “there was no ‘Youthquake’” since turnout among young people declined in 2022 compared to the 2018 figures. But even if that’s the case, early exit polls show that, while young people may not have turned out everywhere en masse, they really turned out where it mattered most for Democrats. In nine competitive states, including Michigan and Pennsylvania, CIRCLE’s exit polls suggest aggregate youth voter turnout reached 31 percent, 1 percent higher than the 2018 national average. “It’s a combination of technology and then just missing the story about what’s happening in this country.”“It’s a combination of technology and then just missing the story about what’s happening in this country,” Max Lubin, CEO of Rise, a student-led nonprofit advocating for free college, told The Verge on Wednesday.Robocalls and texts have increased tremendously over the last few years. Most pollsters rely upon people responding to their calls and clicking on the links they send via text to complete their surveys. According to RoboKiller (an app that blocks spam texts and calls), Americans received over 6 billion robocalls last October.  “Young people are more astute and ignore those links more than other people,” John Ray, director of polling at YouGov Blue, told The Verge this week. “Their discipline with their devices is much better.”Polling has evolved over the last decade to catch up with the rise of social media platforms in popularity with young people, but experts suggest firms haven’t gone far enough. Meta’s ad targeting tools have allowed polling firms to reach younger voters across platforms like Facebook and Instagram, but the service’s targeting accuracy has decreased over time, especially for iPhone users after Apple made changes to its privacy and third-party data permissions last year. “Facebook is strongly on the decline, but it’s at such a high point and probably will be until the end of this upcoming cycle,” Ray said. Political pollsters are not like corporate marketing firms. They have smaller budgets and demand more precise data returns. This makes it harder to experiment with younger audiences. But, with stricter online privacy and robocalling regulations in the future, polling firms may have to adapt to new platforms like YouTube. “This cycle I’m telling people they need to be figuring out what their strategy is going to be for Discord, for Twitter,” Ray said. “We’re exploring more ways of recruiting people to take surveys off of the YouTube channels that they watch.”In the days leading up to the 2022 midterm elections, Snap put out a new Snapchat lens encouraging users to answer surveys resembling exit polls that would appear in their Stories. While the surveys aren’t as scientific as those created by professional firms, the data gathered could help Snap, whose users are predominantly younger, fill in the youth polling void. “Pollsters are stuck in an outdated mindset that young people aren’t gonna show up,” Lubin told The Verge. “And even though young people have broken turnout records between 2018 and 2020, and I expect we’ll see some record-breaking new turnout numbers this year, pollsters are stuck in this conventional wisdom.”In states like Michigan, hundreds of students stood in voting lines for hours, circling college campuses on Election Day. Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer finished in a close race against Tudor Dixon, her Trump-endorsed Republican opponent. They were neck-and-neck in the polls. In the end, Whitmer secured reelection by over 10 points, according to The New York Times.“Polls are often wishcasting operations at this point,” Rodericka Applewhaite, communications director for the Michigan Democratic Party, told The Verge on Wednesday. “Pollsters are going to have to do a lot of soul-searching about how to stay relevant in this field.”

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