Youth Vote Analysis Offers Some Surprises

Article excerpt

There's a fascinating report out this week analyzing the 23 million votes Americans ages 18 to 30 cast on Nov. 6. Drawing on national exit polling by Edison Research, Tufts University's Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) has broken down information about young voters' motivations and attitudes by race, gender and education.

Strategists on both sides of the aisle should read every page and think about their playbooks. Some of the numbers confirm conventional wisdom about young and minority voters, but others suggest that notoriously tough-to-pigeonhole Millennials have surprises to deliver at the ballot box.

The top takeaways: African-American women were most likely to vote for Barack Obama at 98 percent vs. 41 percent of young white men. Young Latina voters were the most liberal of the groups surveyed for "Diverse Electorate: A Deeper Look into the Millennial Vote." [PDF]

Also clear: The electorate is increasingly diverse and low- income, and young voters increasingly identify themselves as Democrats (44 percent vs. 38 percent of all voters) or Independents (30 percent) over Republican (26 percent).

"A larger percentage of the youth electorate in 2012, when compared to 2008, self-identified as Latino/Hispanic, Black, or lesbian, gay or bisexual," the CIRCLE report noted. "Over half (58 percent) of young voters were part of families that had incomes under $50,000 in 2011, and nearly a third of young voters (32 percent) had family incomes under $30,000 in 2011. These are both significantly higher percentages than for older voters."

The report comes on the heels of a local analysis that showed youth in Minnesota voted in record numbers, and overwhelmingly against both amendments. Some 79 percent voted against the proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, and 69 percent voted against the proposed voting amendment,

According to the CIRCLE analysis of exit-poll data, the highest percentage of votes cast against a candidate, vs. in favor of one, were young white men who came out to vote against Obama at 63 percent, compared with 38 percent against Romney. And 54 percent favor the repeal of Obamacare.

Compared with just 23 percent of the youth electorate four years ago, 34 percent of young white men felt that their family's financial situations were worse now. Forty-one percent of young white men thought that the U.S. economic system is fair to most people compared to 34 percent of youth overall and 33 percent of white women. …