As a twenty-something, it was hard not to notice or hear of the push from MTV/P.Diddy to get us registered and to the polls.
Their stated goal was, I believe, 20 million. Outside of pundit speculation, I’ve only seen one figure which seems to indicate how many young people showed up to vote in this election - the exit polls. Apparently, young people (18 to 29) were 17% of the voting populace, the same figure as in 2000.
Using the latest numbers, ~114 million, that would put the young voters at about 19.4 million. Regardless of those numbers, I can’t help but think all of the hype MTV generated for the cause served only to prove that young people just don’t give a shit.
The thing about young voters is that they don’t stay young voters. I had just started college when I voted in my first Presidential election, but by the time the next one rolled around I was out of college. The Rock the Vote guys have to generate an entirely new constituency each election, so keeping the same voter levels is pretty impressive. I’ll let them decide if that’s worth the effort.
Something I saw today is that young voters as a proportion of the votes didn’t go up, but their total numbers went way, way up. 17% this time, 17% last time, but the raw numbers jumped way more than population growth. I’m sure as percentage of registered voters in that age bracket we got a great bump.
So the turnout operation worked - we got more of them to the polls. It was just swamped by the even bigger turnout gains elsewhere.
18-21 year old voters makes up what percentage of the population? If they make up 30% of the total and 17% of the total are voting, that’s about 55% turnout across the entire age group. Not too shabby, really.
The age range for younger voters I’ve seen most often is 18-29, not 18-21. If you use that larger age range, your estimate is quite good, shift6. According to MTV’s website, 52% of eligible 18-29 year olds voted this time, compared to 42% in 2000.
After exhorting my students to vote for the first half of the semester, I’m happy to see this. I just hope they continue to take part in elections as they get older.