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August 7, 2008

the importance of young voters

We study and promote young people's participation because engagement is good for young people and the political system. But it also affects who wins. It turns out that the Gallup poll from last week that showed McCain ahead of Obama included youth as only 10 percent of the sample, when they represented 16-18 percent of voters in 2004. This is because Gallup includes only "likely voters" in its results. Young people are truly less likely to vote, but they are especially unlikely to make it past Gallup's screen for "likely voters," because they cannot say that they have voted in many previous elections.

This is partly an issue of measurement: Gallup probably needs to count more young voters. But it is also relevant to campaign strategy. If young people actually vote at the rate Gallup predicts, McCain is ahead. If they vote at a higher rate, he loses--unless he persuades them to vote for him. Game on.

August 7, 2008 4:14 PM | category: none


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