Youth Voter Particpation Surge Largely Confined to College Students

By Nathan Henderson-James

A new Research Memo published today by Project Vote shows that while youth voter participation has been setting records this election cycle, participation by young people still lags behind other age groups. Further the data show that participation has largely been confined to young people with at least some college experience.In Project Vote's view, this data suggests that continued focus on college-attending youth without reaching out to non-college youth threatens to leave at least half of this key constituency out of the most important election in a generation.

Some of the highlights from the report include:

--There 25 million voting-eligible Americans between the ages of 18-24 but only 46 percent are registered to vote and just 22 percent voted in 2006.

--There are 17 million voting-eligible Americans ages 25-29 but only 57 percent are registered to votes and just 30 percent voted in 2006.

--Registration rates of non-Whites in both age groups lag 10 percentage-points behind Whites.

--Over 6 recent election cycles (1984-2004), voting by young Americans without college experience lagged approximately 30 percentage-points behind young Americans with college experience.

--Young voters in the 2008 Super Tuesday primaries were overwhelmingly college educated.

Some of the biggest findings show that a slight majority of Blacks and a large majority of Latinos lack college experience. This, combined with the data on voter registration rates and voter turnout rates from the Super Tuesday primaries in February 2008, leads us to the following conclusion.

This research memorandum shows that there are approximately 21 million Americans ages 18-29 who could register to vote and that this unregistered population is 62 percent White and 38 percent non-White. It is likely that the majority of this population cannot be reached through campus-based programs. Finally, we can reasonably speculate from the information that to the extent campaign-based phenomenon drive youth registration and turnout, the effect is largely confined to young Americans with college experience.

Nathan Henderson-James is the Director of Project Vote's Strategic Writing and Research Department (SWORD).

Tags: civic participation, College Students, voter registration, young voters, youth voter participation, Youth Voting (all tags)

Comments

20 Comments

so... what are the organizing priniciples

... what are the social networks outside of college for these folks?

How do we harness a fundamentally different outlook?

by RisingTide 2008-06-09 01:16PM | 0 recs
Re: so... what are the organizing priniciples

Churches.

by NeciVelez 2008-06-09 01:37PM | 0 recs
And Facebook.

Don't underestimate the power of online networking, especially in the 18-30 age range.

by Elsinora 2008-06-09 01:39PM | 0 recs
Re: And Facebook.

The Facebook crowd would generally be a college educated crowd, I would think, being that before last year you had to have a .edu email to sign up.

by recusancy 2008-06-09 01:52PM | 0 recs
Not really.

Last year, that was true.  But it really has gone fully public now among people my age.  

Myspace is another one with a lot of young, not necessarily collegiate users.

by Elsinora 2008-06-09 02:03PM | 0 recs
Myspace is still much bigger

with non-college track.

For my 2006 Senate Primary campaign I "friended' every Wisconsin band I* could find on Myspace. Many them pushed votes for me in set breaks, and several downloaded my flyer, and printed it on the back of their gig fliers. It helped, of course, that my "issues' prominently featured opposition to the drugwar and censorship of live music spaces, "violent videogames," and then pending legislation blocking social networking sites from schools and libraries.

Here's my campaign MySpace page, little changed.

Ended up with 51,277 votes Statewide, spent 662 bucks.

by benmasel 2008-06-09 02:47PM | 0 recs
Re: so... what are the organizing priniciples

Young people go to church?

by recusancy 2008-06-09 01:50PM | 0 recs
Re: so... what are the organizing priniciples

Lots of young people go to church.

Where do you live?

by NeciVelez 2008-06-09 01:54PM | 0 recs
Re: so... what are the organizing priniciples

Hu... Michigan. Pretty conservative town to. Yes young people still go to church but not anywhere close to what they elders did. I would say 3 or 4 people out of everyone I know goes.

Well, if they do, then here's one way Obama can reach out them.

by recusancy 2008-06-09 01:58PM | 0 recs
I just diaried about this :)
though there seem to be a lot of naysayers
http://www.mydd.com/story/2008/6/9/16233 8/0473
by NeciVelez 2008-06-09 02:17PM | 0 recs
Re: so... what are the organizing priniciples

Bars. That's where they are.

by recusancy 2008-06-09 01:49PM | 0 recs
Re: so... what are the organizing priniciples

Honestly, this is right. I didn't go back to college until I was 23 - between 18 to 23 I was working in entry-level jobs and hanging out with friends, and yep, we were at the bar quite a bit.

A "Bar Crawl for Obama" might pick up quite a few voter registrations.

by upstate girl 2008-06-09 01:59PM | 0 recs
Summer music festivals.

by benmasel 2008-06-09 02:49PM | 0 recs
The Organizing Fellowes have their work cut out

Unfortunately, the time to register high school students is at the end of the year, not the beginning.

by Dracomicron 2008-06-09 01:16PM | 0 recs
Re: The Organizing Fellowes have their work cut ou

Does the Dem party do any outreach to these young new registrants to claim party when registering.

As the resident of a closed primary state, I saw many registered voters at my age (25-30) who where shocked to realize that they were not registered Democrats, as Primaries were never important here before.

I hope our party increases the rate at which people register to our party.

For anyone who has canvassed they know the value in party registration.

For example in the 2006 election we only went to houses on our "voter mailing list"  the list contained only addresses that had a registered Democrat living there 4 years ago.
The list also did not contain any condos but that didn't stop me :)

by CrushTheGOP2008 2008-06-09 01:20PM | 0 recs
In Nc
Kids could register and vote in the primary as long as they turn 18 before Nov 4.
by parahammer 2008-06-09 01:41PM | 0 recs
Re: Youth Voter Particpation Surge Largely Confine

well they need to get more than just college students, like I think there ought to be voter registrations at things like concerts, near the beaches where the young will be this summer. Also, with colleges, to get more blacks to come out, there needs to be huge GOTV at schools like Morehouse and Howard.

by Lakrosse 2008-06-09 02:48PM | 0 recs
To be honest, your comment kinda made me

cringe.

To assume that the GOTV efforts on traditionally black college campuses isn't already as intense as it is on most other college campuses, suggests an assumption that they're likely to be less involved politically than their white counterparts.  They are as likely, and as motivated, and GOTV efforts are already as active and successful on campuses like  Howard and Morehouse as they are at places like Boulder and Austin and Madison.

For someone who had the time, it would be interesting to research the topic; find out which Congressional District each HBCU lies in, and not only whether the CD is held by a Dem, but whether it's held by a member of the Black Congressional Caucus.  I suspect that to be the case in a great many of them, and to be even more true of the state legislators representing those districts.

by aggieric 2008-06-09 07:04PM | 0 recs
At the polls registration States

likely show less disparity. I suspect this was a big factor in Obama doing so much better among "blue collar whites' (usually defined as never attended college) in Wisconsin than in the States with stiff registration barriers.

by benmasel 2008-06-09 02:52PM | 0 recs
That strikes me as a pretty good example of

"we already know the answer, but let's spend money researching it, anyway."

by aggieric 2008-06-09 06:45PM | 0 recs

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