The next generation takes on Congress

November 2, 2022

FIRST IN SCORE — Over 300 congressional candidates on the ballot next week are 45 and under, according to a new report from the Millennial Action Project .


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FIRST IN SCORE — Over 300 congressional candidates on the ballot next week are 45 and under, according to a new report from the Millennial Action Project .

The nonpartisan nonprofit, which supports young elected officials, tracks the number of millennials running for Congress each election cycle. This year saw a 42 percent increase in candidates 45 and under compared to the 2020 cycle. Still, compared to the total share of congressional candidates, that’s a sliver — just around one out of six are millennials, the report finds.

Millions of young people have turned, or are turning, 18 between the 2020 election and the 2022 midterms. Millennial voters make up over one-quarter of the electorate, and combined with Gen Z voters, have the potential to make up close to half of voters.

At the beginning of the 117th Congress , the average age of the House was 58 years, and the average age of the Senate was 64 years. There’s been a lot of conversation this cycle about octogenarians — and near octogenarians — being in some of the highest levels of office, leading some candidates to campaign on term and age limits on elected officials.

“I think seeing the scale of how many young people are running and the growth year over year is a sign of optimism,” said Layla Zaidane, CEO and president of Millennial Action Project.

Findings from the report include:

— Of the 334 candidates who are 45 or younger, there are 193 “true” millennials — or people who are born between 1981 and 1996. Ninety-one are under age 35, which includes 89 true millennials and two Gen Z candidates, Democrat Maxwell Alejandro Frost in FL-10 and Republican Karoline Leavitt in NH-01.

— The partisan breakdown isn’t as vast as one may think between the two major parties. There are 131 candidates 45 or younger running as Democrats, and 123 are running as Republicans. Forty-six are Libertarians, 20 are independents or have no party preference, and 14 belong to another party.

“There’s a total misconception about the extreme partisanship of next generation lawmakers, because you see really loud examples of people on the left or on the right, and it’s easy to paint a stereotype or a picture of the entire generation based on some of those more visible examples,” Zaidane said. “I think what we’ve seen across the board is sort of a twin idealism and pragmatism that is very present in this generation.”

— The gender divide leans more toward men, who make up 69 percent of the 334 candidates running. Women make up 31 percent — a share decrease from the 2020 cycle, when women made up 41 percent of the candidates.

Zaidane said the group was surprised about this drop. “We see, online and offline, how people talk about or threaten elected officials, and so that might be a component of why women are maybe not running for office,” she said, pointing to last week’s attack on Paul Pelosi, in which the suspect intended to take Speaker Nancy Pelosi hostage .

She also attributed the drop to a surge in women running in previous cycles. Research from the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University similarly found that no records were broken this year for the number of women running for Congress.

— Florida, California, Texas and New York each have more than 20 people 45 and under on the ballot. Montana and Rhode Island are the only states that do not have any candidates in this category.

“Young Americans have a vastly different perspective of our world that’s been missing from government for too long,” Rep. Sara Jacobs (D-Calif.), who co-chairs the Congressional Future Caucus, said in a statement. “That’s why it’s so important that we recruit, encourage, and support the next generation of leaders to run for office. We need their leadership and innovative ideas more than ever to solve our biggest problems.”

Happy Wednesday. You know where to find me: [email protected] and @madfernandez616 .

Days until the general election: 6

Days until the 2022 World Cup: 18

Days until the 2024 election: 734

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TO THE STATES — A handful of states are headed to one-party rule — and its drama. POLITICO’s Lisa Kashinsky reports : “One-party rule is generally regarded as a good thing for the party in power, while divided government, the argument goes, allows for key checks and balances. But there are perils to unilateral power. It can bring dormant intraparty fault lines to the surface, torch relationships among lawmakers and splinter the party in power’s voter base.” The number of states with one-party rule has steadily been on the rise in recent years — a marked contrast to governance in the nation’s capital.

ON THE TRAIL — Will President Joe Biden’s visit to Florida make that much of a difference? Maybe not. “Biden’s visit to the state Tuesday, his third trip since becoming president, comes after more than 3 million voters have already cast ballots, with more Republicans voting early than Democrats,” my colleague Gary Fineout writes .

Biden’s set to campaign for Rep. Mike Levin in CA-49 this week. Levin saw his district get slightly more Republican in redistricting, and POLITICO forecasts the race as a toss-up as he faces a rematch with Republican Brian Maryott. Biden is also stopping in New Mexico this week to support incumbent Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. He’s heading back to the East Coast to stump for Senate candidate John Fetterman and gubernatorial candidate Josh Shapiro, along with former President Barack Obama, on Saturday.

RELATED: “Biden to close on the economy as issues of political violence and disinformation loom,” by POLITICO’s Jonathan Lemire

LEGAL CORNER — “ Pennsylvania’s highest court ordered state election officials on Tuesday to not count mail ballots with dates omitted or that were incorrectly dated by voters — the latest development in a long and twisting legal battle over how ballots are tallied in the state,” POLITICO’s Zach Montellaro writes . The case will likely result in more Democratic-leaning voters being tossed out, since Democrats disproportionately vote via the mail.

— “A temporary restraining order was granted Tuesday in a suit aimed at keeping an election watchdog group in Arizona from intimidating the state’s voters,” POLITICO’s Olivia Olander reports . “ Per the order , members and associates of the group Clean Elections USA have been barred from coming within 75 feet of a ballot drop box or a building housing a drop box; speaking or yelling at people within 75 feet of the drop box (unless yelled at first); or open-carrying firearms or wearing body armor within 250 feet of drop boxes.”

REDISTRICTING WOES — Perhaps an unintended consequence of redistricting: voters casting the wrong ballots. “Election officials said Tuesday that some Tennessee voters have cast ballots in the wrong congressional district in Nashville — a city that Republican lawmakers carved three ways during redistricting in hopes of flipping a Democratic seat,” the AP’s Jonathan Mattise and Kimberlee Kruesi write . “At least one precinct has been affected, which includes the 7th Congressional contest that pits a Black Democratic candidate, Odessa Kelly, against Republican U.S. Rep. Mark Green . Some voters relied on interactive maps from the comptroller’s office and the Legislature, only to find later that the secretary of state’s office lists them as in the 6th District.”

DISINFORMATION WATCH — “The Biden administration has backed away from a comprehensive effort to address disinformation after accusations from Republicans and right-wing influencers that the administration was trying to stifle dissent,” ProPublica’s Andrea Bernstein and Ilya Marritz report . “The government’s retreat comes ahead of midterms in which election officials throughout the country are being inundated with false rumors about their work. … It is not clear whether DHS’ initiatives would have made a significant difference in combating the tsunami of false rumors. But the current and former employees are frustrated that the agency’s efforts have been hobbled in response to political pressure.”

CALLING ON CANDIDATES — Jewish leaders raised alarms this week “about antisemitism they say is increasingly normalized in American politics after a series of bigoted comments from associates or supporters of GOP candidates and growing calls for them to firmly reject such rhetoric,” The Washington Post’s Hannah Knowles, Colby Itkowitz and Isaac Arnsdorf write . “Republicans, including GOP Jewish leaders, defended their candidates and leaders’ responses to antisemitic comments and said many Democrats have failed to denounce troubling remarks within their own ranks.”

COME TOGETHER — The campaigns for Alaska gubernatorial candidates Bill Walker, an independent, and Les Gara, a Democrat, put out a joint video asking voters to rank both candidates on the ballot to oust incumbent Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy. With ranked choice voting, a voter does not necessarily have to fill out choices after the first . All first choice ballots are counted. If a candidate gets a majority of the vote, counting stops and the winner is declared. If no one gets a majority, counting goes to round two — or instant runoffs. If a voter casts their top choice vote for a candidate who made it to the next round, their vote stays with them. And if a voter casts their top choice vote for a candidate who was eliminated, then their vote will be counted for the next candidate they listed on the ballot.

“Whether you support Team Gara/Cook or Team Walker/Drygas, we urge you to rank the other team second,” the lieutenant governor candidates Jessica Cook and Heidi Drygas say in an ad . “With ranked choice voting, it’s going to take all of our votes to beat Dunleavy.” Both of the campaigns put $30,000 behind the video, which is placed across targeted digital and targeted streaming services over Alaska’s largest cable platform, per the campaigns.

AND THEN THERE WERE TWO — Libertarian Arizona Senate candidate Marc Victor dropped out of the race and endorsed Republican Blake Masters. Masters called the endorsement a “major boost of momentum.” Incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly didn’t seem too worried , saying, “this race has always been between me and Blake Masters.” Victor’s name will still appear on the ballot; early voting started in the state in mid-October.

LAST-MINUTE MESSAGING — Radio ads and mailers — which fly under the radar more than TV spots — pushing messaging against transgender kids are flooding swing states, I report with my colleague Marissa Martinez . America First Legal, launched by longtime Donald Trump aide Stephen Miller, has plastered airwaves and mailboxes with the issue ahead of the election, targeting Black and Spanish-speaking voters. Citizens for Sanity, another group formed by Trump administration alumni which has spent tens of millions on late advertising, also made TV buys on the issue a week ahead of Election Day in battleground states including Georgia, Arizona and Nevada. (ICYMI, America First Legal has also been running radio ads accusing the Biden administration of “racism” toward white Americans.)

Geoff Wetrosky, the Human Rights Campaign’s national campaign director, told us the radio ads are an effort to suppress turnout, a playbook seen before. Organizations made similar efforts to create divisions between LGBTQ individuals and Black and Latino voters when campaigning against marriage equality a decade ago. America First Legal defended the ad, saying, “The Biden Administration and its allies are advancing a radical agenda.”

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— Congressional Leadership Fund is going on air with seven-figure buys in hopes of flipping two deep-blue districts on the edges of the House battlefield, POLITICO’s Ally Mutnick reports . The super PAC is investing $1.8 million and $1.5 million, respectively, on broadcast buys in the expensive Chicago and New York City media markets targeting Rep. Sean Casten in suburban Chicago and the Long Island seat held by retiring Democratic Rep. Kathleen Rice . House Majority PAC, CLF’s Democratic counterpart, also recently invested in both districts — a sign that both parties believe the seats are at risk of flipping.

… CLF is also placing another $1.2 million buy in New York targeting Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney , another $500,000 to target Democratic Rep. Mike Levin in southern California and another $600,000 to aid New York state legislator Colin Schmitt, who is challenging Democratic Rep. Pat Ryan in a nearby district.

— Republican Arizona secretary of state candidate Mark Finchem has received nearly $10,000 in donations from people linked to the far-right extremist group the Oath Keepers, Arizona Mirror’s Jerod MacDonald-Evoy reports .


— Two new polls from Univision News take a look at how the Latino vote can sway Arizona and Florida . “I wouldn’t be surprised if this cycle, they end up voting Republican, and I don’t think that necessarily means that they’re turning Republican,” said Sergio Garcia-Rios, director of polling and data at Univision news. “It just means that there’s a year where there’s worries about the economy, where the president is highly unpopular, and it’s a midterm election. … I wouldn’t take that as a sign of a trend. I’d take that as Latinos being Latinos, and Latinos caring about certain issues that don’t always align with the official list of issues that parties care about.”

— A majority of young adults have a “great deal” or “quite a bit” of confidence that the votes in this year’s elections will be counted accurately, according to the quarterly GenForward survey , which features an oversample of young adults of color. Sixty-two percent of AAPI respondents express that sentiment, as do 54 percent of Latino respondents and 51 percent of Black respondents.

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— Republican Washington Senate candidate Tiffany Smiley is up with a spot encouraging voters to submit their mail-in ballots . According to a recent Pew Research Center poll , Republicans are skeptical of absentee and mail voting, with just 37 percent saying they are very or somewhat confident that those will be counted as voters intended. Eighty-eight percent of Democratic voters expressed that level of confidence.

— United Democracy Project, the AIPAC-founded PAC supporting moderate Democrats, is hitting Democratic PA-12 candidate Summer Lee for being “really radical” on her public safety stances. The group is spending around $1 million against Lee, per AdImpact.

— Donald Trump’s influence looms over the Oregon governor’s race. In a spot , Democratic candidate Tina Kotek accuses Republican candidate Christine Drazan of “using Trump’s playbook.”

CODA — QUOTE OF THE DAY: “You’re into ‘inside the Beltway’ gossip,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in a POLITICO interview .

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Steve Shepard @politico_steve

Zach Montellaro @zachmontellaro

Ally Mutnick @allymutnick

Madison Fernandez @madfernandez616

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Rep. Sara Jacobs


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