Some Democrats fear losing college students’ votes because of widespread remote learning.

With college campuses quiet as universities adopted online instruction to help stop the spread of coronavirus, a new political wrinkle came with it: Some House candidates, typically Democrats, can usually count on support from students living on college campuses in their districts — but many of those students are now living back home.

For Representative Elissa Slotkin of Michigan, a Democrat who beat an incumbent Republican in 2018 and flipped the Eighth Congressional District blue for the first time in 20 years, the switch to largely virtual teaching means the potential loss of thousands of reliably Democratic voters at Michigan State University in East Lansing.

In a House district that was decided last time by 13,098 votes out of more than 340,000 ballots cast, the loss of any votes this year keeps Ms. Slotkin up at night. She can no longer pitch herself to a captive audience of students hanging out in dorms, because almost all of them are shut down. And hitting the tailgate parties during football games on Saturdays with campaign literature, handshakes and smiles? Forget about it.

Though young Americans typically vote at lower rates than the electorate does as a whole, the race in Michigan’s Eighth District isn’t the only one where their absence could have an impact.

Nathan L. Gonzales, editor of the Inside Elections newsletter, said the loss of students at the campuses of Oregon State University and the University of Oregon could be a factor in the race for Oregon’s Fourth Congressional District.

Representative Peter DeFazio, a Democrat seeking an 18th term, is facing a well-funded Republican challenger, Alek Skarlatos, a former Oregon National Guard specialist who gained fame in 2015 when he helped foil a terrorist attack on a train bound for Paris. Inside Elections still gives the edge to Mr. DeFazio, but the newsletter has shifted its rating of the race from “Solid Democratic” to “Likely Democratic.”

“In close races, everyone and everything matters,” Mr. Gonzales said. “And it’s hard to identify one single factor that makes the difference. But the lack of college students on campus should be a concern for some Democratic candidates.”

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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.

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