According to a quickie analysis from the folks at CIRCLE, youth turnout was pretty ho-hum in New Jersey but through the roof in Virginia: up from 26 percent in 2013 to 34 percent in 2017. And young people voted massively in favor of the Democrat:
If this is correct, it’s big news. I mean, even if you buy the idea that kids just didn’t like Hillary Clinton much, it’s pretty startling that they’d vote for Ralph Northam in such wildly bigger numbers. Northam isn’t exactly Bernie Sanders, after all.
The most obvious explanation is that (a) Trump’s victory galvanized them and (b) the racial crap at the end of the Virginia campaign really pissed them off. What’s more, Virginia was expected to be a close race. New Jersey wasn’t, so turnout stayed about the same as in the past.
This is all guesswork at the moment, and might change when we get more solid numbers. But along with reports that minority turnout was also up in Virginia—which powered a huge Democratic shift in the state legislature that nobody predicted—it provides some hope for 2018 and 2020. If Donald Trump has finally provided the magic formula for motivating Democratic constituencies to vote in midterm elections, the Trumpublican era may turn out to be a blessedly short one.