Mapping the Youth Vote Impact

CIRCLE has updated their youth turnout numbers.  You'll remember that these estimates are based on exit polls and the overall vote count.  As absentee and early voting ballots get counted, the totals rise, changing the turnout numbers.  CIRCLE now estimates that:

  • 23 million young voters cast a ballot on Tuesday, an increase of 3.4 million over 2004.

  • Youth turnout will likely top off at 52 - 53%.  That would rival the 1992 turnout, and fall just short of the all time record of 55.4% set in 1972.

  • Young voters accounted for 60% of the overall turnout increase.  That for the whole electorate.

  • CIRCLE still estimates that young voters made up 18% of the total electorate.

The big story still remains Obama's staggering 66 - 32% margin among youth, and I want to explore that a little more in pictures.  Here's a look an historical look at the youth vote margin, long-term and short-term:

youth 2000 - 08




We've made huge gains among youth in recent years, but it's amazing seeing the 24 year swing of young voters away from the Republicans after Reagan's all-time high in 1984.

CIRCLE had one final observation about the 2008 youth vote - as in 2004, turnout was higher in states that were highly targeted by the campaigns (and I would add independent organizations):

CIRCLE estimated comparative turnout in states that were heavily campaigned by both candidates (CO, FL, IA, IN, MI, MN, MO, NV, NH, NM, NC, OH, PA, VA and WI), and all other states for youth and all ages combined.  According to CIRCLE's estimation using aggregated counts of votes from each of these states, youth turnout in the heavily campaigned states was especially strong at 59%, compared with 47% for all other states combined.  Using the same method, overall turnout in these heavily campaigned states was also high at 69%, compared with 56% for all other states combined.  Based on these statistics, it can be inferred that young voters responded to various campaigning efforts in these states by casting their ballots at much higher rates than young people in other states.

The numbers will continue to move a little as all the votes come in, but the big question mark that remains about youth impact on the election is down ballot.  Did Obama have coattails, and did his 66 - 32% margin translate into votes for other candidates?  Or was there significant drop off?  That's going to take some time to figure out, but it's an important question - with implications for how campaigns, the party and independent youth orgs conduct their work.  I'll post when we know more.

Update:Caught a mistake. Illinois should also be blue in the 2004 map. I will swap out a corrected map as soon as I can. Fixed.

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The Coming Democratic Earthquake Part II: Can the Millennials Save Us From Ourselves?

cross posted from DailyKos

Well Granny calls us purity trolls, PsiFighter says we should just grow up, Olberman is telling Obama how to do his job, to read this blog lately you'd think the entire progressive movement is about to crumble to dust because our latest patron saint of progress has declared a measure of independence from us, the "righteous" left, or perhaps the "self righteous" left is apropos.

From the perspective of a generational researcher it all comes off like some kind of self indulgent comedy, like so many brilliantly argued theses on how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. We become trapped by our own ideology, shouting into the echo chamber that is our own little corner of the blogosphere.

We wring our hands in fret, some because our once saintly anointed leader has spurned us, and others because now that we have entered meltdown mode he is surely to crumble amidst the loss of our once united support.

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The Coming Democratic Earthquake

(cross posted from Dailykos)
William Straus and Neil Howe broke social science ground in 1991 with the fist in a series of books studying American generational history, this book "Generations", traces America's generational history back to 1584 and establishes their theory that US history can be fairly accurately framed as a roughly 80 year repeating cycle of 4 distinct generational groups.

The theory postulates that each generation has certain characteristics which distinguishes itself from the other generations in it's cycle. Among those distinctions are social attitudes, behaviors, and politics.

This theory has recently been advanced even further by the Morley Wiongrad and Michael D. Hais book "Millennial Makeover" which focuses on the millennial generation sometimes referred to as Generation Y.

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The Progressive Generation: What Young Adults Think About the Economy

Anyone who has read a poll knows that the economy is the #1 concern for young people today, but what does that mean in terms of the policies they would support?  The Center for American Progress just issued a new report that sheds light on this not-often-explored intersection of demographics and policy.  The report - The Progressive Generation: How Young Adults Think About the Economy - does much to dispel myths (like the one that says young people are gung-ho about Social Security Privatization), and clarifies the position of Millennials on a number of issues.  The report provides some rays of hope to the labor movement, and has a lot to say not just about the economy, but really what Millennials think about the role of government in America.  

This should be mandatory reading for campaigns, the Party, and anyone seeking to understand the political beliefs of the youngest generation. Here are the major findings:

  • Millennials are more likely to support universal health coverage than any age group in the 30 previous years the question has been asked, with 57 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds saying that health insurance should come from a government insurance plan.

  • Eighty-seven percent of Millennials think the government should spend more money on health care even if a tax increase is required to pay for it, the highest level of support in the question's 20-year history.

  • An overwhelming 95 percent of Millennials think education spending should be increased even if a tax increase is required to pay for it, the highest level ever recorded on this question in the 20 years it has been asked.
  • Sixty-one percent of Millennials think the government should provide more services, the most support of any age group in any of the previous 20 years the question was asked.

  • When asked in the General Social Survey whether they were in favor or against the idea that cutting government was a good way to help the economy, Millennials had the lowest support of cutting government spending in the history of the question.

  • Millennials are very supportive of  labor unions, giving them an average ranking of 60 on a 0-to-100 scale (with 0 indicating a more negative view of labor unions and 100 being a more positive view), the second-highest level of support of any age group in the over 40-year history of the question.

For the more graphically inclined, here's what that looks like in graphs:

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Millennials and Public Policy

If you've any questions for Mike or Morley, go ahead and ask them in the comments, and I'll folow up with their answers in the comments, over the whole series, in a post later this week.

This is the third of three parts in review of Millennial Makeover:  MySpace, YouTube and the Future of American Politics

Part I: About Political Makeovers

Part II: Millennials and the 2008 Election

Part III: Millennials and Public Policy

Millennials and Public Policy

You've written that Millennials respond more positively to a message emphasizing a multilateral rather than unilateral foreign policy. This seems to be reflected in a subtle way when Obama ends his speeches by saying "let's go change the world" rather than "God bless you" or "God bless America." What brought about this shift?

This shift has occurred for several reasons. First, "civic" generations such as the Millennial Generation, have historically favored multilateral rather than unilateral or nationalistic approaches in foreign policy. This was certainly the case with the GI Generation. Once that generation determined that an interventionist and activist, rather than an isolationist, foreign policy was in America's interest, the GI Generation endorsed World War II and postwar efforts that emphasized alliances such as NATO and international organizations such as the United Nations. Millennials, like their GI Generation grandparents, are not an isolationist or a pacifist generation. While they oppose the Iraq war, they do so because they believe it has diverted the country's attention from and weakened the overall struggle against terrorism and Islamic extremism. They also believe that United States efforts in these arenas should emphasize multinational alliances rather than unilateral military actions.  

Another reason that Millennials may be more comfortable with multilateralism and globalism is the diverse ethnicity of the generation. The Millennial Generation is the most diverse in U.S. history. About four in ten Millennials are African-American, Latino, Asian-American, or of mixed ethnicity. About 20-percent have at least one immigrant parent. Millennials seem especially comfortable with the world because, in their demographic composition, they are the world.

Finally, Millennials are constantly in communication with "friends" from around the world through their social networks. They have been raised to believe in the importance of including everyone in the group and finding "win-win" solutions to problems. They will take this attitude into the international arena, based on the friendships they have already established there.  As a result, we expect Millennials to look for policies that include everyone in the decision-making process and are likely to produce results that are acceptable to everyone in their expanded group, even if that group extends well beyond the borders of the United States.  

In regards to policy, you write that Millennials "are up to their eyeballs in debt" (p. 251) which will no doubt become even more of an issue as they come out of college with that debt. The previous generation had to deal with this to an extent, but nothing like the current generation, which is also going to have to deal with other issues of national debt. How does this play out with the Millennial generation when it comes to the polarized debate over taxes?

We believe Millennials will favor policies that relieve their debt burden even if it means higher taxes. Remember, civic eras reduce economic inequality, often through redistributive taxation policies, but also through other economic programs designed to provide relief from financial obligations, even at the expense of the financial sector.  Having set the Bush tax cuts to expire in 2010 in order to avoid the budget scoring rules of the Congress, Republicans have, in effect, made it easy for the Democratically controlled Congress that will be elected in 2008 to simply let those tax cuts, that primarily benefit  the wealthiest Americans, expire. Even in the event McCain is elected president , he will not be able to force the Democrats to pass extensions of tax breaks for the wealthy while the middle class is being so tightly squeezed. And, of course, should a Democrat become president, there won't even be a debate about the wisdom of doing so.  

However, the problems of the debt that George Bush has passed on to future generations by refusing, for the first time in the nation's history, to at least partially finance a war out of current tax receipts, will create an interest among Millennials and politicians of all types in a civic era to take additional measures to relieve this debt burden. Making all income subject to the payroll tax, as Senator Obama has suggested, is one such step that seems likely to be included in the mix of solutions to assuring the future viability of Social Security.  Mandating health care for all individuals and providing government subsidies to those who can't afford the premiums, is another way in which Millennials will seek to lower the cost of health care that is preventing many Americans from having enough money for other necessities.  And creating not just an optional, as Obama has suggested, but a mandatory program of "national citizen service" in exchange for the federal government paying for the first two years of post-secondary education will also become national policy in the civic era we are now entering.  

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