In the past few weeks, there has been a lot of discussion regarding President Obama’s 2012 presidential campaign and the youth vote. It has been widely known that the young adults are less inclined to vote, but recent statistics on voter turnout show that more and more youth are showing up to the polls. Although, there has been an increase in youth voter turnout, the youth still remains the age group with the lowest voter turnout.
The youth had been the push for many presidential candidates. In 2004, the youth was the only age group that favored presidential candidate John Kerry and the youth was Kerry’s winning vote in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Ohio. President Barack Obama captured the attention of the youth, and the youth fueled Barack Obama in his 2008 presidential campaign. Many first time youth voters (under the age of 25) headed to the polls to vote for Barack Obama which gave him an advantage over presidential candidate, John McCain. Even though the youth was only 17% of all eligible voters in 2000 and 2004 (18% of all eligible voters in 2008), they made a huge impact at the polls as a group together.
According to the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE); the voter turnout for the youth (ages 18 to 29) was 40% in 2000, 49% in 2004, and 51% in 2008. There was a nine percentage increase in youth voter turnout from 2000 to 2004. This led many to conclude that the youth voter turnout in the 2004 presidential election was just a spike, which was what happened in the 1992 presidential election. However, the increase in youth voter turnout may not be just a spike, as we see in 2008 that youth voter turnout increased from 49% to 51%.
Many believe the increase in youth voter turnout is a result of more advanced technology that has allowed the youth to be more involved in election process. Technology has also increased the accessibility to political issues and positions beyond the original paper pamphlets and advertisements on campaigns. Many candidates have created profiles on social networking websites to reach a larger audience and to connect with voters.
In 2008, it has been estimated that between 21.6 and 23.9 million youth (ages 18 to 29) voted in the presidential election more than any other election since 1972, the year the voting age was changed from 21 to 18. The 2008 presidential election revealed the impact youth voters can have at the polls and their influence in elections. From 2000 to 2008, youth voter turnout increased by eleven percentage points; the largest increase in voter turnout we’ve seen in any age group. There will be 16.8 new youth who will be eligible to vote in 2012 with a total of 46 million youth eligible to vote. If voting trends for the youth continues in 2012, the youth could be the deciding factor for the winning vote.