Youth vote against the GOP

By a stunning margin of 19 points, young people between the ages of 18 to 24 bucked the national GOP trend and voted for Democratic candidates Tuesday.

The turnout, while 50 percent below the 2008 figures, was normal for a midterm election. “An estimated 20.4 percent of young Americans under the age of 30 voted in Tuesday’s midterm elections, compared to 23.5 percent in the last midterm election (2006).” says the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement. They continue, “Almost nine million Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 voted. Almost 10 million people in the same age group voted in 2006.” 

Excited by the Obama bid for the presidency, young people composed 18 percent of the electorate in 2008, but on Tuesday comprised 11 percent.

Still the trends are important.  As Billy Wimsatt points out, “These numbers are in keeping with a trend from the previous three national elections in which young adult voters (18-29) preferred Democrats to Republicans at a much higher rate than older segments of the population – by 9 points in 2004, 22 points in 2006, and 34 points in 2006.”

Labor and student organizations took initiatives to draw out a larger youth vote, as did President Obama late in the fall campaign. Unfortunately these measures did not significantly boost the overall turnout.

Polling showed that a national survey of likely voters did not include a representative samplings of youth and minority voters. “A  study  by Pew Research suggests that the failure to include cell phone users (a significant number of young people, blacks and latinos) might bias the polls by about 4 points against Democrats, even after demographic weighting is applied,” said the New York Times.

According to CBS news exit polls the African American turnout was also down slightly. “An estimated 10 percent of blacks are voting, compared to 13 percent in 2008. The exit polling found 8 percent of voters are Hispanic, with 66 percent voting Democratic.”

These figures are preliminary and should be treated cautiously. In 1998 angered at Republican attacks on democracy and President Clinton, blacks voters came out in high numbers in a vote referred to at the time as a “quiet electoral uprising.”

The Obama administration has won high marks from student groups for its measures to reform financial aid for college students.

Photo: Ohio State University Student Democrats pass out information about President Obama’s visit to Ohio State, in Columbus, Oct. 12. Terry Gilliam/AP




Joe Sims
Joe Sims

Joe Sims is co-chair of the Communist Party USA. He is also a senior editor of People's World and loves biking.