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April 28, 2009

youth turnout topped 50% in 2008

The Census has released its 2008 voting data, which is the basis of a fairly detailed new fact sheet by CIRCLE. We find that the turnout of under-30s rose to 51.1 percent. For under-25s, the turnout was 48.5 percent. These rates are considerably above the levels we saw around 1996-2000.

I'm an optimist, so I'll say that the glass is half full. (In fact, we beat the half-full mark by 1.1 percentage points.) We no longer see a steady decline since the 1970s: now the graph seems to suggest that roughly 50% turnout is the norm for American youth, and the late 90's were an exception on the low side.

But the gaps in turnout were large in 2008. About 36 percent of young people with no college experience voted, compared to a 62 percent rate for young people who have attended college. Only about half of young adults go to college.

There was also a partisan gap, although that cannot be directly measured using Census data. Since 66 percent of young voters chose Obama/Biden, it's likely that conservative youth tended to stay home. That would account for why turnout didn't rise more in '08.

There's much more in the fact sheet.

April 28, 2009 12:53 PM | category: none


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