While Americans sat enthralled in front of their TV screens on June 8, watching James Comey testify in front of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, shocking general election results began trickling in from across the pond.
About two months ago, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May called for a general election this summer in hopes of expanding the majority held by her Conservative Party (the Tories) in Parliament. Most Brits thought she’d succeed.
But as ballots were being counted last night, her hopes faded — and fast.
While there was no decisive winner walking away from the contest — May’s party only won a plurality — the Tories lost a handful of seats and its majority in Parliament, bucking most election predictions in a dramatic fashion. The Tories’ losses mean there is no majority party at the moment, resulting in a messy hung Parliament. May might not be prime minister much longer.
So … what happened, exactly?
Young. People. Voted.
Official election tallies are still being counted, with many reports relying on surveys and exit polling to read into the behaviors of U.K. voters. But early data is pointing toward at least one significant factor: determined young people.
Early estimates suggest roughly 72% of young people aged 18-24 voted, according to NBC News. This marks a sizable uptick since the “Brexit” vote last summer and a massive increase from the 2015 elections, when just 43% of that demographic turned out.
To May’s dismay, the vast majority of young people voted for her chief political opponent, left-leaning Jeremy Corbyn.
Corbyn — the leader of the Labour Party, who wanted the U.K. to remain in the European Union — sold voters on the promises of raising taxes on the wealthy, avoiding military interventions in foreign countries, and restoring “politics for the people.”
“My friends were physically cheering in the streets,” Craig McDonald, a 25-year-old who voted in favor of the Labour Party, told Bloomberg. “I was loving it.”
Depending on how the hung Parliament shakes out, Corbyn could be the country’s next prime minister.
There are many differences between elections in the U.K. and the U.S., but certain similarities between the electorates and political climates in both countries could be a cause of concern for President Donald Trump and the GOP.
Some are dubbing the U.K.’s election results the “revenge of the youth.” And certain signs are painting a similar picture state-side ahead of the midterm elections next fall.
Trump’s approval rating is historically poor (no matter which way you slice it), but it’s even more dismal among younger Americans. People across many demographics are unhappy with the president’s agenda, but young people (and women) have taken on particularly important roles in the resistance.
In a special House election in Georgia, Democrat Jon Ossoff is polling surprisingly well in a historically red district over Republican Karen Handel with just two weeks to go before voters hit the ballot box. Ossoff’s chances of winning — bolstered by enthusiasm among young people — is being closely watched from Washington as a test of the anti-Trump movement in battleground (and even deep red) regions of the country.
Will young Americans make the difference in the 2018 midterms?
The U.K. and U.S. are different countries, of course, with various factors playing important roles in shaping voters’ opinions of who should represent them in office.
But if young people’s thirst for change in the U.K. reflects the attitudes and determination of young Americans in 2018, next year may shape up to be quite the headache for the man in the White House right now.