The youth vote in Tuesday's election is reminiscent of the numbers seen in past midterm elections, according to an analysis by the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning & Engagement, a non-partisan research center on youth engagement at Tufts University's Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service.
At least 9.9 million people between the ages of 18 and 29 took part in the 2014 election. This cycle's youth vote of 21.3 percent one day post election is slightly up from 2010, when the figure was 20.4 percent.
According to the researchers, Democrats still have an advantage with young voters, despite the strong year for Republicans.
"In terms of both youth turnout and vote choice, 2014 looks like a typical midterm election year as far as youth are concerned. Young people made up a similar proportion of voters in 2010," said Peter Levine, associate dean of the Tisch College. "Although this was a wave election for the GOP, youth still tended to vote Democratic. In the national exit poll data on House races, 18-29 year-olds preferred Democratic candidates by 54 percent to 43 percent. In many close Senatorial and gubernatorial races, youth preferred the Democratic candidate, and in some states, like Florida, they were the only group that did."
When it comes to the strong turnout of young voters back in 2008, Levine said the large numbers were due to Obama's first presidential run. The decrease in activity among young voters in this election likely hurt Democratic senators who came into office that record-breaking year.
"The fact is that 2008 was an exceptionally strong year for Democrats, when youth support for Barack Obama set the all-time record in presidential elections," he said. "The change from an extraordinary presidential year to a rather typical midterm year hurt the Democratic Senate incumbents from the class of 2008."
Levine says the take away for Dems is that they need to re-engage the voter block.
"For Republicans, the lesson is they can be competitive among younger voters, although nationally, they still lag behind with that group, and in some states, the Democratic tilt of young voters may pose a problem in years to come. For Democrats, the message must be to re-engage with young people, who had provided more support in 2008 Senate contests," Levine explained.