Cheri Beasley sits at a table in a restaurant with potential supporters in Durham, NC. NC Democratic US Senate Candidate Cheri Beasley
Cheri Beasley, a Democratic US Senate candidate, speaks to potential voters in Durham, North Carolina. (Photo by Allison Lee Isley for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Youth voters were a key demographic in Joe Biden’s 2020 win over Donald Trump. A youth advocacy org is hoping to replicate that success in NC’s US Senate race. 

NextGen PAC, the advocacy arm of the nation’s largest youth voting organization, is endorsing Democrat Cheri Beasley in North Carolina’s 2022 Senate race.

The election could help decide which party controls the US Senate, and young voters in North Carolina could be the deciding factor.

NextGen will leverage its grassroots organizing infrastructure in North Carolina by mobilizing thousands of young voters to defeat [her opponent] Republican Senate candidate Ted Budd,” the group said in a news release on Wednesday. 

NextGen cited Beasley’s “commitment to protecting voting rights, abortion rights, and LGBTQIA+ rights,” among the reasons for the endorsement.

This record, the group said, is a pretty clear contrast to Budd, currently an NC Congressman from Davie County. He has close ties to former President Trump, and at least initially, helped him spread the lie that the 2020 election was stolen.

“Representative Budd has spent his time in Congress attacking North Carolinians’ civil liberties, and young voters know that Beasley is a leader who will truly represent and reflect their vision for the future,” NextGen PAC said. 

“Young people know Beasley will be a champion for their issues, whereas Representative Budd will continue pushing a MAGA agenda that aims to rollback voting rights, abortion access and care, and gun safety,” NextGen President and Executive Director Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez said in the news release. 

Energizing Youth Voters

These are crucial issues for the public in-general, but especially for young voters.

Young voters are often the least engaged during elections, especially midterm elections. But, in 2020, NextGen said, the group “contributed to the highest youth voter turnout in history.” It registered nearly 1.5 million new voters in 2020 and “motivated” nearly 4.7 million young people to cast their vote. The young vote was a key demographic in Joe Biden’s victory over Donald Trump.

The group has long put vast interest and resources into North Carolina. 

“As NextGen works to flip North Carolina blue,” the organization said in the Beasley news release, “organizers will continue to reach hundreds of young voters each week and host events in the community to ensure young people are ready to turn out for Democrats up and down the ballot.”

But many polls show that disillusionment among young voters is as serious a problem as ever. 

An April poll by the Harvard Kennedy School found that “a sharp increase in youth believing that ‘political involvement rarely has tangible results’ (36%), their vote ‘doesn’t make a difference’ (42%) and agreement that ‘politics today are no longer able to meet the challenges our country is facing.’”

[Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly referred to NextGen America, rather than its advocacy arm NextGen PAC, as making the endorsement. We regret the error.]