8 - Turnout among 18-29 year old
voters increased by more than 2 million voters in the 2006
elections compared to 2002, according to an early exit poll analysis released today as part of
the first comprehensive look at the youth vote in the midterm
elections, presented by Young Voter Strategies. At
least 10 million votes were cast by this age group in 2006
compared to 8 million in 2002, and the vote counts are still
coming in. Youth-dense precincts that were targeted
by Get-Out-the-Vote campaigns showed even larger increases.
Turnout more than doubled in the 36 precincts where groups
like the nonpartisan Student PIRG’s New Voters Project actively
turned out this age cohort.
released today, a new bipartisan poll by Ed Goeas and Celinda Lake shows
that in 2006 young voters were motivated primarily by
a strong desire for change, combined with high levels
of contact from campaigns and nonpartisan organizations:
61% of those who were surveyed said they feel the country
is on the “wrong track” and 52% report being contacted
by a campaign.
generation of voters has arrived as a force in politics,”
said Heather Smith, Director of Young Voter Strategies.
“For the second major election in a row, turnout among
young voters increased—yesterday’s election showed that
2004 was the start of a trend of increasing young voter
turnout. Today’s young adults proved that they’re
a critical voting bloc for both political parties to court—at
42 million strong, this generation will only grow in importance
as more and more vote in each election.”
of the National Election Pool’s exit poll for 18-29 year
olds, conducted by the University of Maryland’s Center
for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement
(CIRCLE) found that turnout among 18-29 year olds yesterday
increased at least 4 percentage points over 2002 figures
to 24%. This is a greater increase than was seen
in the overall electorate; the share of votes cast by
young people increased by at least 2 points.
is an extraordinary turnout for young voters,” said CIRCLE
Director Peter Levine. “In a year of rising turnout, young
people led the way—repeating the pattern that we saw in
2004. Youth were an especially high proportion of voters
in Montana, Michigan, Minnesota, and Missouri. Nationwide,
in House races, 61% of young people voted for Democratic
candidates—the highest proportion for any age group.”
vote tallies from youth-dense precincts in eight states
showed even greater young voter turnout increases in areas
targeted by nonpartisan registration and mobilization
2006 analysis focused on a set of 36 precincts in Ohio,
Connecticut, Iowa, Colorado and Michigan. The precincts
all contained a relatively high concentration of college
students, and were located near universities where nonpartisan
Get Out the Vote efforts were conducted by the Student
PIRGs' New Voters Project and other partners. The analysis
compared voter turnout numbers from the 2002 General Election
with yesterday's turnout numbers. Average turnout in those
precincts increased by 157% over 2002. This increase is
six times the national average increase of ballots cast
by young adults.
November 7th, we proved again that ‘if you ask them, they
will vote,’” said David Rosenfeld of the Student PIRG’s
New Voters Project. “In 2004, massive outreach helped
propel youth turnout to historic levels; yesterday, the
biggest project we’ve ever run in a midterm election cycle
reached and engaged a new generation of voters who showed
in no uncertain terms that they are a voting bloc that
politicians must pay attention to.” The Student
PIRG’s registered over 75,000 students to vote and ran
nonpartisan GOTV operations on 80 campuses in 2006.
bipartisan polling team of Ed Goeas and Celinda Lake—who
have followed this cohort throughout the 2006 elections—released
the initial findings of the first post-election Young
Voter Battleground Poll. The poll which looked at
motivations for youth going to the polls, surveyed 500
18-30 year olds and has a margin of error of +/-4.4.
Key findings include:
- 58% talked a great deal/some
with family and friends about the elections.
- Young people listed education
and college costs, the war in Iraq, and the economy
as areas of concern they want Congress to address.
- Young people said the most
important issue to them when deciding who to vote for
was the war in Iraq at 43%.
- At the same time, 60% reported
dissatisfaction with the President’s actions on those
- 61% of young adults surveyed
said they believe that America is on the wrong track;
31% on the right track.
- The youth identify with
Democrats at 40%, Republicans at 30%, and Independent
at 23%. However, the Democrats win the majority
of the Independent votes in a generic ballot question.
50% reported that they voted for Democrats and 35% reported
that they voted for Republicans. 14% were undecided.
- Of those surveyed, 46% were
contacted by a political campaign or organization during
the 2006 election cycle. The majority of the contacts
remembered by young voters were by phone and mail.
were victorious in 2006 in part because they have begun
to reach out to young voters,” said Celinda Lake of Lake
Research Partners. “We are excited to see this age cohort
show up at the polls in increased numbers and vote overwhelmingly
Democratic, their desire for change helped drive the Democratic
victories yesterday. This is now the second major
election in a row that the Democrats won the youth vote.
Studies show that if a young person votes for a party
in three elections in a row, they tend to vote with that
party for life.”
2006 elections show that Republican campaigns must mobilize
their base of young voters to win,” said Ed Goeas of The
Tarrance Group. “Yesterday proved that young voters can
and will be a force in elections—of the 28 seats in the
House of Representatives that changed hands so far, 22
were won by less than 2% of the vote, 18 by 5,000 or less
votes, and four by less than 1,000 votes. The increase
in youth turnout certainly came into play yesterday.
As the Republicans look ahead to 2008 in an environment
where many of the incoming Democrats won with less than
55% of the vote, they should look seriously at continuing
to engage and energize GOP voters under 30. There
are cost-effective methods to do so and our survey shows
that young Republicans are very party-loyal and willing
to be turned-out.”
voters made their voices heard at the polls on November
7, 2006. At 42 million strong and growing, this
generation has arrived as a force in politics and will
only grow in importance as more and more vote in each
election. Just as the Republican Party invested
resources in winning the Evangelical vote and the Democratic
Party courted the African-American voting bloc, both political
parties can and must implement a strategy to target and
win young voters—both to win close elections today and
to build political power for the future.
To see the full Lake-Goeas poll results
To see more about the exit poll turnout analysis