Youth Voter Particpation Surge Largely Confined to College Students
by Project Vote, Mon Jun 09, 2008 at 12:59:11 PM EDT
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).