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Saturday, May 25, 2024

Youth voter turnout close to 2008 level: High turnout, but less support for Obama in 2012

Despite concerns young voters would not turn out in big numbers to re-elect Barack Obama as president Tuesday, early statistics suggest the youth voter turnout nationally mirrors the huge numbers from 2008. However, the numbers this time around suggest Obama received a significantly lower proportion of these votes.

Forty-nine percent of voters in the 18-29 age group showed up to vote in Tuesday’s presidential election, compared to 51 percent in 2008, according to statistics released Wednesday from Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, a nonpartisan, independent, academic research center that studies young people in politics. The 2 percent gap could change, as the figures are preliminary estimations and some votes are still being counted.

The 2008 election saw a historic increase in youth turnout, from about 19.4 million in 2004 to approximately 23 million in 2008. In 2012, early returns show between 22 and 23 million young Americans voted, totaling 19 percent of the electorate.

“Youth turnout of around 50 percent is the ‘new normal’ for presidential elections,” said CIRCLE director Peter Levine in a statement Wednesday.

But research from CIRCLE and figures gathered by The Daily Cardinal from polling locations around the University of Wisconsin-Madison suggest young voters did not support Obama as strongly as they did in 2008.

In 2008, nearly 66 percent of youth nationally supported Obama over John McCain, but this year the same demographic’s support dropped by 6 percent, with 60 percent voting for Obama and 37 percent voting for Mitt Romney.

The Daily Cardinal found similar results from polling locations across the UW-Madison campus, where approximately 70 percent of people voting at campus area polls voted in favor of Obama, which is a 9 percent decrease from 2008, when approximately 79 percent of campus-area voters supported Obama.

Conversely, 19 percent of campus-area voters supported John McCain in 2008, and 27 percent of voters in the same area supported Republican challenger Mitt Romney this year.

The shift could prove significant, but Levine said young people still “form a key part of the Democrats’ national coalition.”

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