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Andrea Austria / Media Matters

Research/Study Research/Study

Right-wing media attack young voters after they break overwhelming for Democrats

Right-wing media are attacking young voters following their overwhelming support of Democratic candidates in the 2022 midterm elections. 

In the weeks leading up to the elections, right-wing media preemptively celebrated and taunted Democrats about an incoming “red wave” that would capture a significant Republican majority in the House and take control of the Senate. This anticipated victory did not materialize, and right-wing media figures have sought a scapegoat in the electorate for the GOP’s underperformance , zeroing in on voters under thirty and unmarried women, two demographics that overwhelmingly voted for Democrats.

The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University estimated that young voters between 18 and 29 voted for Democrats over Republicans in House races by 28 points. Around 27% of the demographic voted in the midterms, down from 2018’s 31% but the second highest percentage in the last decade. Young voters supported Democratic candidates in key races, with 74% voting for Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan in New Hampshire and 70% voting for Democratic Gov. Tony Evers in Wisconsin. 

72% of young women ages 18 to 29 voted for Democratic House candidates, a stark difference from the 54% support for Democrats by men of the same age, and helped secure Pennsylvania Senator Elect John Fetterman’s win with 77% of young women supporting him. 

Right-wing pundits and media outlets are now lashing out, as calls to raise the voting age and restrict unmarried women from voting have spread online and Republicans blame these groups for being short-sighted or misled by Democrats. 

  • Attacking young women

    • Fox News host Jesse Watters addressed Republican’s poor performance with single women by stating “we need these ladies to get married.” Watters also claimed, “Once women get married, they vote Republican.” [Fox News, Jesse Watters Primetime, 11/09/22]
    • TPUSA’s Charlie Kirk agreed with Watters on his radio show, saying, “It’s true, women do need to get married.” Kirk stated, “Women are happier when they’re married. … It’s just biologically and literally true.”  [Real America's Voice, The Charlie Kirk Show, 11/10/22]
    • On neo-Nazi collaborator Jack Posobiec’s podcast, Editor-in-Chief of The Post Millennial Libby Emmons pushed that “women were sold a false promise” that a career would be more fulfilling than having a partner and children. She accused the Democrats of telling women, “The federal government is there to be your spouse, there to be your co-parent, it’s there to provide for you and do all of these things for you,” but “it’s a total contradiction, it’s a lie, and it’s going to hurt women, and it’s going to hurt our society.” [Real America’s Voice, Human Events Daily, 11/11/22]
    • The Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway alleged that there is a “massive political incentive Democrats have to keep women unmarried.” [Twitter, 11/9/22]
    • One America News Network’s Addison Smith used Republican talking points on progressive issues to push the idea that unmarried women voted against their own interests: “Almost 70% of single women voted for candidates who’ve vowed to erase them from the dictionary, let pervert men in their locker-rooms to watch them change & convince them that they should murder their kid so they can keep slaving away at a widget factory. Feminism = masochism” [Twitter, 11/9/22]
    • Article III Project’s Will Chamberlain plainly asked, “What if you could only vote if you were married.” [Twitter, 11/9/22]
    • BlazeTV host Steve Deace pushed the idea that Democrats have a “demonic agenda” that “survived the election because young unmarried women want to kill babies whenever they want.” [Twitter, 11/10/22]
    • The Babylon Bee’s Joel Berry tweeted, “Unmarried women in America are lost, miserable, addicted to SSRIs and alcohol, wracked with guilt from abortion, and wandering from partner to partner. They are the Democrats’ core base now, and the Democrats will do everything possible to manufacture more of them. He then pushed that this agenda starts in “kindergarten.” [Twitter, 11/11/22; 11/11/22]
    • Anti-LGBTQ propagandist and BlazeTV host Allie Beth Stuckey explained that unmarried women vote Democrat because married women are “more likely to be religious,” “more likely to have children,” (and thus “no longer just thinking about your own life,”) and are “influenced by their husbands,” who are “more likely to vote Republican.” Unmarried women, Stuckley says, “are probably getting a lot of their political ideas and worldview” from social media. [Instagram, 11/11/22]
    • The Telegram account for far-right social media network Gab called these voters “unmarried childless whores of Babylon” who want to “continue to slaughter their children.” It later called unmarried women “a civilizational threat.” [Telegram, 11/9/22; 11/9/22]
  • Disparaging support for abortion

    • Right-wing radio host Jesse Kelly scorned that abortion rights pushed unmarried women toward Democrats because “we have spent 50 years in this country demonically telling women that is somehow a right of theirs to murder a child in their womb,” accepting that a hardline anti-abortion stance “might cost us elections.” He went on to declare pro-choice women “my enemies,” calling them “demonic hags.” [iHeartRadio, The Jesse Kelly Show, 11/14/22]
    • On Fox News’ Outnumbered guest Michele Tafoya claimed young people turned out to vote because the messaging around the fall of Roe was misleading. Tafoya claimed that “legally the overturning of Roe V. Wade was correct” but many Democratic politicians used the overturning to their advantage, inspiring young voters. [Fox News, Outnumbered, 11/10/22]
    • On One America News' Real America, host Dan Ball made outlandish assumptions about the youth vote, including that they “were more worried about free student loan handouts, climate change, more gun control, and unlimited abortions.” [One America News, Real America with Dan Ball, 11/9/22]
    • Appearing on The Ingraham Angle, Fox News contributor Raymond Arroyo claimed young people voted for Democrats because they were offered “drugs, recreational drugs, abortion, [and] paid off student loans.” [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 11/9/22]
  • Claiming Biden paid for the youth vote with student loan forgiveness

    • Laura Ingraham claimed Biden’s “free money goosed the youth vote enough to make a difference, perhaps.” She also said the president “doesn't care” that a judge struck down the student loan forgiveness program because “the election is over.” [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 11/10/22]
    • Fox host Mark Levin stated on his radio show that Biden “bought the youth vote” by subsidizing student debt forgiveness. Levin followed up his accusation by claiming “and that's what they do on the left.” [The Mark Levin Show, 11/10/22]
    • Breitbart senior editor Joel Pollak pushed that student debt forgiveness was “one of the greatest cons in political history,” all to secure “the youth vote.” [Twitter, 11/13/22]
  • Declaring young voters are brainwashed by social media, pop culture, and higher education

    • On One America News’ Tipping Point with Kara McKinney, Republican strategist Matthew Peterson called to activate young “red pilled” voters, arguing that they need to “be elevated to leadership,” to combat their “totally brainwashed” counterparts. [One America News, Tipping Point with Kara McKinney, 11/9/22]
    • Jesse Watters also dismissed young voters as “totally brainwashed.” [Fox News, The Five, 11/9/22]
    • Anti-Muslim extremist Brigitte Gabriel said we should to “raise the voting age to 21,” and that “Generation Z is destroying the country at the ballot box.” [Twitter, 11/9/22; 11/9/22]
    • Conservative outlet RedState published a piece titled, “Don't Blame Gen Z for Voting Democrat, Blame the People Who Told Them To.” The piece argued that “many of them don’t know any better. Their entire perspective on politics comes from people like Taylor Swift, Harry Styles, and whatever TikTok influencer they decided to start getting their information from.” The piece goes on to urge parents to “investigate your kid’s schools,” and encourage politicians to defund state universities “that preach anti-American values.” [RedState, 11/9/22]
    • Fox & Friends Sunday guest Kale Ogunbor, a right-wing, Generation Z, college campus influencer, claimed that young people get their information from social media and “those institutions lean very left. I'm not that surprised with the way my generation came out to vote Tuesday.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends Sunday, 11/13/22]
    • On Kirk’s show, Steve Bannon proposed that “colleges are part of the system on the ballot harvesting,” and “it feels a little gamey." [Real America’s Voice, The Charlie Kirk Show, 11/12/22]
    • Kirk also blamed colleges and social media, saying that parents upset that their child is “still liberal,” should realize “you just sent your kid to, like, Brown and he's on TikTok all day long.” [Real America’s Voice, The Charlie Kirk Show, 11/10/22]
    • Conservative propagandist and election denier Dinesh D’Souza argued that young people voted overwhelmingly for Democrats because college students are misinformed about conservatism. As a result, when that view is “challenged later, their minds are so hardened, so set, that they're not even really listening.” D’Souza also said that uncertain economic futures partially created by large student loans push young voters towards “socialism” because it means “somebody else is going to foot the bill.” [The Dinesh D’Souza Podcast, 11/10/22]
    • Breitbart similarly blamed colleges, warning that more schools may adopt on-campus voter turnout efforts “likely to the detriment of Republicans.” [Breitbart, 11/10/22]