IN EARLY NOVEMBER OF 2004, the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) released statistics on voting by young Americans revealing that more than half of the eligible under-30 population had voted. Turnout had reached a level not seen for more than a decade. CIRCLE later released additional information on young people's voting and their attitudes and values as revealed by the exit polls.
Like the Under-30s, Voters Under the Age of 25 Increased Their Turnout Based on National Election Pool (NEP) exit polls and vote tallies from the Associated Press, CIRCLE estimates that the turnout of 18- to 24-year-olds was approximately 42 to 47 percent, up from 36 percent in 2000. (2) Young people between the ages of 25 and 29 voted at a higher rate, 59 percent in 2004.
Exit polls also indicate that 18- to 24-year-olds' share of the total vote stayed about the same as in 2000, at around nine percent. Their share of the voting eligible population also stayed the same. However, the turnout of 18- to 24-year-olds went up from 2000 by at least six percentage points. Overall turnout increased dramatically this year, and the increase in the turnout of 18-to 24-year-olds is at least as high as that seen in older age groups.
Currently, exit polls are the only source of data for estimating youth voter turnout, but they may not be the best data source for comparing the turnout of different age groups over time. Exit polls usually do not include anyone who voted early or absentee. More information about youth voter turnout will be available in 2005 when the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey November Supplement is released.
Young and Older Voters Concerned about Same Issues, but Different Values
Young voters and older voters were generally concerned about the same issues. For example, 22 percent of under-30 voters selected "moral values" as the single most important issue, exactly the same rate as in the electorate overall.