Drop in Young Voter Registration Bodes Badly for Obama

Tufts University survey finds widespread decline in youth registration.

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There has been a "drastic drop" in voter registrations by young people since 2008, and this could be very damaging to President Obama's bid for re-election next year, according to a new analysis of registration data.

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The analysis focuses on the key battleground states of Nevada and North Carolina as case studies. It "not only illustrates the Democratic Party's loss of a significant advantage in youth voter registration over [its] Republican counterpart, but additionally reveals trends that may signal a widespread decline in youth registration overall--both problematic developments for President Obama's 2012 re-election effort," concludes the study by the nonpartisan Center for Information and Research on Civil Learning and Engagement at Tufts University.

In North Carolina, the number of new youth registrants (ages 18 to 25) declined by 48,500 between November 2008 and November 2011, while the number of older adults (ages 26 and over) increased by more than 142,000 registrants. Of the 48,500 net loss in youth registrants, more than 80 percent or 39,049 were lost among registered Democrats.

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In Nevada during the same time period, overall registration declined by a net of 117,109, and 43 percent of that decline was among voters between the ages of 18 and 24, or 50,912 people. The CIRCLE analysis finds that, "The potentially negative electoral impact for the re-election campaign of President Obama is due to the decline in the youth share of all registrants--youth were 11 percent of Nevada's registered voters in the 2008 election but just 7.85 percent in October 2011.

"Given the overwhelming support young voters showed President Obama's 2008 campaign, with nearly two-thirds of young voters casing their ballots for Obama, this drop in the share of the electorate comprised of young voters could prove a major difficulty to the 2012 re-election campaign for President Obama in Nevada."

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The CIRCLE survey is in line with other research indicating the young people's enthusiasm for Obama has waned greatly since his victory in 2008.

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