Young Downscale Voters Didn't Show Up At Polls in 2008 Elections

Voters under 30 made up 22 percent of the potential electorate but only 10 percent of voters.

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By Michael Barone, Thomas Jefferson Street blog

An update to my blog post yesterday on young voters: I've just checked out some Census numbers which I should have consulted before finishing that post. From the Census estimates of population by age in 2007, I find that of the 227,719,424 people 18 and over, 50,550,121 were 18 to 29. In other words, the under 30 population was 22 percent of the total adult population. So the young made up 22 percent of the potential electorate (or maybe one percent or two percent less, since they're probably less likely to be citizens and more likely to be imprisoned felons than their elders) but were only, according to the exit poll, 18 percent of the actual electorate. Which suggests very strongly that the young vote in 2008 was tilted heavily upscale, in terms of income and especially education, compared to the overall population. This reinforces my sense that the downscale young didn't show up and vote very much at all. So it remains, to me at least, a mystery how they would have voted if they did. I need to do more thinking and research on this.

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  • Corrected on 03/20/09: An earlier version of this article misstated an estimate of the under-30 voting population. They made up 18 percent of the electorate.