Millennial Vote 2012: Youth Vote Was Key Factor in Several Swing States

New exit polling data indicates that younger Americans comprise a growing demographic whose influence may very well increase in coming elections. The Center For Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE), sponsored by Tufts University has announced plans to release a plethora of data on young voter turnout this week. The organization hopes to provide the public with valuable information on this segment of the American population.

Today CIRCLE released their first of three fact sheets, titled “Overview of Young Voters in the 2012 Election”. Representatives from the organization explained in a press conference last Wednesday that they will release two more fact sheets this week. On Wednesday the fact sheet called “Diverse Electorate: A Deeper Look into the Millennial Vote,” will be released, focusing on the diversity of the voter participants. And on Thursday, another release, titled “Young Voters in the 2012 Presidential Election: The Educational Gap Remains,” will analyze the percentage of enrolled college students.

CIRCLE has come up with several findings from their data. An estimated 23 million young voters between the ages of 18 and 29, cast their ballots on Election Day. This makes up 50% of the entire youth population. The turnout increased by one percentage point from the 2008 election. Obama was able to secure the youth vote four years ago, and it is clear that his appeal to young voters worked again in his favor.


It was evident that the majority of young voters identified with liberal candidate Barack Obama on critical issues such as health care and the economy. In terms of partisanship, CIRCLE concluded that only 26% of young voters identified with the conservative ideology, which is the same as their data from 2008.

The youth played a significant role in battleground states in this election. According to the fact sheet overview, 80 electoral votes were decided by young voters. CIRCLE has outlined voting rates in the swing states of Ohio, Florida, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. From the exit polling data, 62% of young voters in Ohio cast their ballots for Obama.

 

The states analyzed have long been battleground states, However CIRCLE has provided much insight as to how candidates can strategize to win these states. If Mitt Romney were able to secure this demographic, the results would have been much different. It is evident from this data that a significant change may be happening nationwide. If the Republican Party wants to avoid a repeat of the 2008 and 2012 elections, it may have to seriously consider broadening its appeal to this important demographic. 

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Shawna Gillen

Shawna is currently studying Political Science and Psychology at Marist College. She has a passion for politics and is an aspiring lawyer. In her spare time she likes to play club women's rugby, and contributes as the Co-News Editor for Marist's student newspaper.

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