( – promoted by DocHoc)
We know that youth turnout is very difficult to actually count because so many states (I’m talking about you Kansas and Oklahoma) don’t parse data based on little things like age or gender or any identifying information other than who voted for which candidate. I guess we should be grateful, right?
Sadly, we have to use exit polling to understand how these young people voted in so many states. Exit polling is traditionally unreliable because they disproportionately survey older voters and as we know young voters are difficult to both find and contact (what with that darn modern technology and all…).
Battleground states have more accurate data because everyone needs to know every little tiny vote. Also states with more sophisticated election boards or Secretaries of State tend to have data available for people like us who want to take a closer look without having to deal with a partisan infrastructure for data. Not very independent…
What I’ve been looking at this week is comparing states that have active youth outreach vs. states that don’t and how the turnout differed.
Montana has had Forward Montana working on the ground since before the 2006 election. They are active every month of every year, not just in the lead up to an election.
This year Montana had a 22% turnout in the exits that went for Obama 61/37. In 2004 it was 21% of the vote share but they went for Bush 52/43.
New Mexico which just recently had a youth org start up and rocked it this year. According to Karlo at CIRCLE
“New Mexico’s youth turnout rate is consistently below the national average despite a large increase in turnout from 2000 to 2004. Like Indiana, young New Mexicans preferred Bush over Kerry.”
But in the exits (which… again give a very conservative estimate of youth turnout) 71% of 18-29 year olds went for Obama in New Mexico. Contrast that with 17% share in 2004 that went for Bush 50/49. That is a substantial difference.
According to CIRCLE’s estimation
“using aggregated counts of votes from each of these states … (including NM), youth turnout in the heavily campaigned states was especially strong at 59%, compared with 47% for all other states combined.”
Kansas … bless their hearts… have no youth outreach at all. But this year had a very strong Students for Barack Obama chapter at the University of Kansas and a few other areas of the state. They had a dramatic change of heart since 2004.
Kansas had exits showing 51/47 for Obama with also a 19% share. 2004 Exits show a 17% share with 55/44 for Bush over Kerry. That is a 7% change of heart for a party and a 2% increase in share. And that’s a conservative estimation…
Oklahoma, by contrast, had no outreach to young voters outside of traditional Young Democrats chapters. Oklahoma was the only state in the country to have more young voters vote republican in their Primaries than democrats.
Exits show that in 2008 – 60% of 18-29 year olds went for McCain in Oklahoma and there was no increase in the share from 2004 to 2008. In 2004, however, they went 62% for Bush over Kerry… so there IS that.
My guess, is that the dramatic turnout we’ve seen nationally only calculated to a 2% increase in youth enthusiasm for Obama in 2008 than for Kerry in 2004. That’s also with a very competitive US Senate race where the democrat was a Young Elected Official.
I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again… if you build it… they will come. We have 4 examples of all kinds of youth outreach here. 2+ year plan, 1-2 year plan, electoral only college outreach, and no outreach with results that show the results. In Montana and New Mexico they nearly flip-flopped in GOP to Democratic support – and in Kansas there was a 7% increase in democratic participation. Oklahoma saw…. nothing.
If we begin to not merely develop a 50 state strategy but develop a 50 state youth strategy then I think we can start to see the kinds of results coming out of Montana and New Mexico in states even like Kansas and Oklahoma.