If a politician wants to influence their election results, then reaching out to the young voter demographic is something that must be done. This is especially true for candidates who identify themselves as being a Democrat or a liberal in the United States right now. Youth voters, however, are often largely ignored.
Young voter turnout in the 18-24 age demographic is the lowest of any other age demographic and has been that way since 1964.
Young Voter Turnout Facts
Young voters have historically moved towards a philosophy of less political engagement over the years, experiencing nearly a 20 point drop in 1996-2000 from their highest turnout rates. Yet their vote can cause an election to swing dramatically in one direction or another if they do choose to get involved because of their historical lack of engagement.
- In 2008, of the 18-24 year old college students that registered to vote, 87% actually voted.
- Only about 13% of college students said the reason they didn’t vote in an election was because they were not interested.
- In 2008, when Barack Obama became the first non-white American President, youth voters made up just 19% of the electorate.
- Youth voter turnout in the 2008 election was only 2 points higher than in the 2004 election.
- Only 59% of youth voters who had registration capabilities on the same day of the election took advantage of this policy.
- Since 1972, young women have been more likely to vote than young men. The gap in 2008 was 8 points.
- States that send out sample or practice ballots see turnout rates in the youth voter demographic that are typically 10% higher.
- Youth voters are only seen by 8% of political party chairs as being the most important voter demographic.
These statistics point to one inescapable fact in the youth voter demographic: a lack of confidence. For many youth voters, the upcoming election will be their first real election that they’ll get to participate in as an actual adult. This can be an incredibly scary process and a lot of pressure is placed on the students to make the right choice. There are a number of influences that attempt to get youth to vote in a certain way as well. Parents, professors, and pastors all have influence over youth in the US and when too much pressure is applied and then combined with personal uncertainty, the end result appears to be a refusal to vote. If we can restore the confidence of our youth in their ability to participate in the voting process, the statistics show this improves voter turnout rates.
Does Overall Education Make a Difference In Turnout?
- In the last US election, those in the 18-24 age demographic who are enrolled in college vote more than those not in school by 9 full percentage points.
- Turnout among young women declined between 2006 and 2010 by three points.
- Approximately 21 million citizens under the age of 30 did not vote in 2008.
- If younger citizens had voted at the same rate as those aged 30 and over in the last election, 7 million more people would have cast ballots in the election.
- Fewer than 50% of minority youth are registered to vote in the United States in any given election.
- 50% of the 32 million Americans in the youth voter demographic have no college education at all.
- The percentage of Latino youth that have no college experience: 68%.
- The total student population in US colleges and universities is 70% white.
Although having a college experience isn’t a guarantee that someone between the ages of 18-24 is going to vote, it makes the chances of a vote more likely. Over the past 20 years, if the averages are taken, college voters in this age demographic have a 30 point gap over youth who don’t go to school. This greatly affects the minority vote and undoubtedly influences an election. It has been said that the lack of a voter turnout is a statement in itself, but the end result is that a minority of the voters get to assume control of the country’s direction when votes aren’t cast. If youth voters are always in the minority because many don’t shop up to vote, then it is impossible to have a clear voice in what happens.
Why Did The Republicans Sweep the Electorate in 2014?
- Americans younger than 30 make up an equal demographic to those older than 65, but the older demographics is twice as likely to vote.
- Young people are twice as likely to be progressive than older voters.
- Voter turnout in 2014 was the lowest in the US since World War II.
- The age of Mitch McConnell, the new GOP majority leader, when voter turnout was as low as it was in 2014: 9 months.
- Only 36.4% of eligible voters cast ballots in the 2014 mid-term elections.
President Barack Obama put it very succinctly after the election results were announced in 2014. “To everyone who voted, I want you to know that I hear you. To the two-thirds of voters who chose not to participate in the process yesterday, I hear you, too.” A minority of voters swept the Republicans into office in record numbers in 2014. It’s the largest majority that the GOP has had since 1928. Is this an indictment of what the political process has been lately? In certain ways, it is. The fact that a majority of voters didn’t vote, led by the youth voter demographic, shows that there is more apathy towards the political process than ever before. What’s the point of electing an official when no one gets anything done anyway? That attitude may be justified, but it could also take the country in a direction that the majority doesn’t want. Why? Because even though Republicans might be the majority in 2014, the election results prove that only a minority of voters were needed to put them into office.