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August 12, 2008

Charles Franklin on the youth vote

For readers who follow this blog out of an interest in youth voting, a must-read post is Charles Franklin's at Pollster.com. His graphs are illuminating and detailed. He acknowledges that mobilizing young voters in 2004 made a significant difference to their turnout and kept Kerry in the game. But he argues that young voters always vote at such low rates that it is better to campaign to the elderly. Besides, older voters--contrary to their reputation for being set in the ways--actually swing more from Democrats to Republicans, which makes them prime targets for outreach.

To be sure, older voters are prime targets. No one would advise a campaign otherwise. The question is where an extra dollar of campaign money makes the most difference. I would not be surprised if the marginal impact is actually greater among the young. Youth voting rose proportionally in 2004 and made a difference in the campaign. That happened despite very modest levels of investment in youth voting by the Democratic Party and nominee. It's quite plausible that each dollar spent on youth paid off quite nicely. (See our estimates of cost-effectiveness here; although unfortunately we cannot compare impact by age group.)

August 12, 2008 2:07 PM | category: none


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