With College Campuses Quiet, Some Democrats Fear Losing Students’ Votes

In Michigan, where President Trump won in 2016 by fewer than 11,000 votes, students’ votes could make a difference. But Cristina Smith, a 19-year-old music major from Alma, Mich., said she noticed fewer students on campus during voter registration drives at Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant, where there is a hybrid of online and in-person classes.

“We had tables out, but there aren’t as many people walking around campus, so we didn’t see as many people,” she said.

In the Eighth District, Ms. Slotkin has devised a strategy to make up for the potential loss of Michigan State students’ votes in her race against Paul Junge, a lawyer, former television news anchor and former employee of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services under the Trump administration.

Although he’s not considered a particularly well-known candidate in the swing district, Mr. Junge has raised just over $1 million for his campaign and has kicked in another $600,000 of his own money. But Ms. Slotkin has a huge cash advantage, having raised more than $8 million for the race.

The Slotkin campaign isn’t taking anything for granted. Using exit polls, it identified about 6,000 to 7,000 votes that Ms. Slotkin got from young people in 2018 and is looking at other areas where she might be able to make up for those votes.

“We reimagined our internship program and brought on 18 high school interns, chosen based on the high school they went to, and all they did was register their friends to vote,” Ms. Slotkin said. “What I know for sure is that young people are much better at finding other young people. And even though I’m 44, it’s like I might as well be 100. So our young people helped us design the digital outreach program.”

In addition, Ms. Slotkin’s campaign is targeting about 10,000 students who it estimates are living off campus in East Lansing, as well as focusing on Democratic areas where turnout was depressed in 2018, like the urban areas of Lansing. It has also been advertising heavily in the district.