Youth Vote's Overwhelming Opposition Doomed Marriage and Voting Amendments

Article excerpt

A few months ago, some Minnesota progressives could be heard fretting about Barack Obama's seeming failure to energize and mobilize young voters this year the way his campaign did in 2008. A low youth turnout would be felt ballot-wide.

In the end, the president's ever-more-sophisticated voter targeting operation did rouse new voters, but in Minnesota, the two proposed constitutional amendments also contributed, according to numbers crunched by the grass-roots student advocacy group Minnesota Public Interest Research Group (MPIRG).

Youth in Minnesota voted in record numbers Tuesday, and overwhelmingly against both amendments, according to MPIRG's tabulations.

Some 79 percent voted against the proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and 69 percent voted against the proposed voting amendment, compared with 54 percent of the state voting no on the marriage amendment and 52 on the voting measure. (These totals include voters who left their ballots unmarked on the questions, effectively voting no.)

"This represents a substantial generational divide," the group said Thursday in a statement. "As both amendments failed on such narrow margins, it is clear that students were a deciding factor."

How do they know? They plugged raw numbers from 24 precincts on or adjacent to college campuses, including the nine where MPIRG is active, into a spreadsheet, which they then compared with '08's tallies.

At three Minneapolis precincts drawing mostly University of Minnesota students, turnout was up: 2-4 saw an increase of 8.1 percent; 2-10 (the old 2-11) saw a 2.7 percent bump and Dinkytown's 3-1 drew an increase of 8.3 percent.

Opposition to the amendments was softest precisely in the Greater Minnesota regions where one would expect, at St. …