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Political force or fad? Young voters' clout uncertain

NEW YORK (AP) — They have walked out, marched and demanded action across America to stop gun violence. But it's far from certain that the young people behind the "March for Our Lives" movement will be a political force at the ballot box this fall.

Republicans are skeptical. Democrats are hopeful. And outside groups that favor gun control aren't taking any chances.

Organizations aligned with Democrats on gun control are spending tens of millions of dollars to ensure that young voters' passion and enthusiasm doesn't fade before the November midterm elections, when the Republican Party's control of Congress will be put to the test.

"Other people look at those young people and think organizing them makes no sense because they don't vote," said Tom Steyer, the billionaire hedge-fund magnate-turned-liberal activist who has committed at least $31 million this year to what is believed to be the largest youth vote organizing effort in American history. "We really believe in this generation."

Past voting patterns show how much work Steyer and others have ahead of them. Just 15 percent of eligible voters between the ages of 18 and 20 cast ballots in the last midterm election.

Still, the mobilization of young people following last month's shooting at a Parkland, Florida, high school has raised the prospect of a shift that could re-shape the American political landscape this fall — and perhaps for much longer.

 

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