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November 4, 2009

what happened to the youth vote?

CIRCLE is the only source for actual youth turnout estimates from yesterday's elections. Nineteen percent of eligible under-30 voters turned out in New Jersey, 17% in Virginia, and 12% in New York City. The only previous Virginia and New Jersey gubernatorial elections for which we have youth turnout data is 1997, and that year was better than yesterday--albeit only slightly better in Virginia. We can also follow the number of votes cast in certain college precincts in 2001, 2005, and 2009--three governor's races in a row--and that shows substantial decline this year.

As I wrote on Monday, it is a statistical error to generalize from a small number of cases. But we do know from much other research that young people turn out when campaigned to. As far as I can tell, there was more youth outreach in Virginia and New Jersey in 2005 than there was this year, including party operations and nonpartisan work. Under those circumstances, the low turnout seems fairly predictable. It is nevertheless a problem that less than one in five eligible young people should participate in this election--and just over one in ten in New York.

November 4, 2009 11:30 AM | category: none



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