Young Americans gravitated to the polls this election, and youth voter estimates show the percentage of eligible 18-29 year-old voters rose to at least 52 percent, an increase of 4 to 5 percentage points since 2004.
According to a voter turnout projection report released by Tufts University’s Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE), the increase in youth votes accounted for at least 60 percent of the overall increase in votes cast, suggesting the recent election rallied more young voters than any other age group.
Peter Levine, director of CIRCLE, said the estimates are based on the number of young voters gathered from the national exit polls, the number of votes cast and U.S. Census Bureau data on the number of young citizens.
The CIRCLE report states that youth turnout has increased by 11 percentage points since 2000.
“I think the interesting thing is that the trend has been consistent,” Levine said. “Young people are just more active than they were 10 years ago.”
Adam Schiffer, an assistant professor in the political science department, said he is not surprised by the increase in young voter turnout and that the projected results seem accurate.
Increases in the youth vote are the result of both short- and long-term effects, Schiffer said.
Civic habits are picked up early in life and the youngest voting generation was young when 9/11 happened and have been socialized under two wars, Schiffer said.
“They have a more immediate sense of the consequences of politics than a couple of other generations before them would have,” Schiffer said.
A short-term factor is that President-elect Barack Obama excited the youth vote, Schiffer said. Both Obama and John McCain’s campaigns took advantage of the ways young people process information through text messaging and social networking sites, but Obama’s attempt seemed to be more successful, he said.
CIRCLE reports that young voters favored Obama over McCain 66 percent to 32 percent.
Levine said social networking sites of both Obama and McCain were like night and day. He said Obama landed a campaign that gave young people a multitude of ways to get involved, whereas less opportunities for youth involvement came from McCain.
Travis Puckett, a freshman radio-TV-film major, said the projected percentage of youth voters who favored Obama over McCain is not surprising.
“Obama is very eloquent; he can phrase things right and he seemed to have more momentum,” Puckett said. “He could rally the crowds better than McCain could.”
According to the CIRCLE report, there is no official count of voters by age and any statistic on youth voter turnout is an estimate based on survey data.
The Tarrant County Elections Center has no estimate on the number of youth voters in the area.
Youth Vote Turnout Projections
million more young people voted than in 2004
of the total increase in voters is accounted for by young voters
of all voters were considered young voters