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June 25, 2006

Great News: Youth Vote Increases; Trends Democratic

In the 2004 election, the youth vote was a whopping 11% higher than it had been in 2000.  Forty-seven percent of young people, aged 18-24 across the country voted vs. 66% of eligible voters 25 and older.   That means there is still plenty of room for growth.

This is great because young people in 2004 voted very clearly for John Kerry over George Bush.  According to Music for America, which crunched the numbers right after the 2004 election, if only votes of the 18-24 year old group had counted, John Kerry would have received 375 electoral votes compared to George Bush’s 163.  That is huge. 

New data out of the U.S. Census Bureau provides additional details on the youth vote in the 2004 election which the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement has compiled with some great charts and graphs.   

The details: the youth vote was 9.3% of the total vote in 2004.  There is a gender gap and an education gap similar to that in the overall population.  Fifty percent of young women voted vs. 44% of young men. Fifty-nine percent of young people with some college voted vs. 34% of non-college aged youth. 

In digging into the numbers and checking out additional research on the changing voting habits of the 18-24 year-old crowd, I found some great news and a place of concern for this fall.  First, the good news. 

The New Voters Project has analyzed the raw data from the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning & Engagement, which indicates that young people voted in much higher numbers in last fall’s gubernatorial elections in New Jersey and Virginia over what they did in 2001. 

The number of votes cast in precincts with a high concentration of college students increased by an average of 15.1 percent above the 2001 election in Virginia, and by an average of 19.9 percent above the 2001 election in New Jersey.

However, historically, in mid-term elections, the numbers of voters in the 18-24 year-old age group is very small.  In 2002, only 24% of young women and 21% of young men voted and only 26% of young people with college education voted and only 13% of young people without college education voted.   The youth vote estimates out of New Jersey and Virginia may mean this is changing but it is still a key place for campaigns to focus on.  When they do, there is data that indicates that reaching young people is very peer-dependent.  Again from the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning & Engagement:   

Young people are the best GOTV resource available. A young person (aged 18-25) asking another young person to vote raises the likelihood of turnout by 8-12 percentage points.

Personal contact is a more effective method of persuading a young person to vote than either direct mail or telephone calls, and is much cheaper.

The average cost per new vote by door-to-door canvassing is approximately $8; the average cost-per-vote for direct mail is approximately $40; Partisan mail is the most expensive voter outreach strategy with an average cost of $400 for each vote gained.

So, a call to young people who vote and pay attention to politics: Get on your friends!  The election this fall is critical to the future of this country, your future. 


Posted by Lynn Allen on June 25, 2006 at 02:02 PM in Strategery | Permalink

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