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National Exit Polls Report Youth Represented 18 Percent of Voters

Young voters favor Obama over McCain by 66% to 32%

Conference Call-in Press Briefing to Discuss 2008 Youth Vote, 2 PM ET, Nov. 5
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Medford/Somerville, MA –  Young people (ages 18-29) represented 18 percent of the voters in today’s election, according to the early released National Exit Polls (NEP) conducted by Edison/Mitofsky. This is the one point higher than in 1996, 2000, and 2004, when young voters represented 17 percent of voters in each presidential election, according to the NEP. However, this number does not indicate how many young people voted or whether there was a rise in youth turnout. In recent elections, the youth share of the vote remained constant, because youth turnout rose at the same rate as the total turnout. See the table below for more information on the difference between turnout and share.

“Voting is not a race between young people and older people,” said CIRCLE Director Peter Levine. “Young people have seen a slight increase in their share of the vote in a year of strong turnout. That represents a notable increase in youth engagement.”

Young people represent about 21% of the voting-eligible population, according to analysis of Census data by Tufts University’s Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE).

Early tomorrow morning, numbers on youth voter turnout will be available. The 2008 youth voter turnout is the only number that represents whether or not there was an increase in youth voting this election. The below chart highlights the difference in the two numbers.  The youth share (percentage of voters who are young) has stayed steady since 1996 as more people of every age have voted.  Youth turnout, on the other hand, has grown consistently, with nearly half of all 18-29 year olds voting in the 2004 election.

  Youth share (percentage of voters who were young) from Edison/Mitofsky National Exit Polls Youth Turnout (percentage of young citizens who voted), estimated by CIRCLE using exit poll data
1996 17% 37%
2000 17% 41%
2004 17% 48%
2008 18% To be released Nov. 5

There is no official count of voters by age. Therefore, any statistic on youth share or youth voter turnout is an estimate based on survey data. Like any survey, the National Exit Polls use methods that may introduce sampling bias. However, our estimates of youth turnout from the National Exit Polls (shown above) have produced a trend that closely tracks the trend in the Census Current Population Survey (CPS), which is the other reliable source for estimating youth turnout. Since CPS voting data for 2008 will not be available until spring 2009, our method produces the only current  and reliable estimate of youth turnout.

Young voters preferred Obama

Young voters diverged sharply from the population as a whole, preferring Obama/Biden over McCain/Palin by 66% to 32% in the NEP. This is by far the highest share of the youth vote obtained by any candidate since exit polls began reporting results by age categories in 1976. In past elections from 1976 through 2004, young voters diverged by an average of only 1.8 percentage points from the popular vote as a whole. 2004 had set the previous record for an age gap.

year Democratic candidate’s share of the under-30 vote (exit polls) Democratic candidate’s share of the popular vote  (Federal Election Commission) difference
1976 51% 50.0% +1.0%
1980 44% 41.0% +3.0%
1984 40% 40.4% -0.4%
1988 47% 45.5% +1.5%
1992 43% 42.9% +0.1%
1996 53% 49.2% +3.8%
2000 48% 48.3% -0.3%
2004 54% 48.1% +5.9%
2008 66% projected to be 52% +14%

62 Responses to “National Exit Polls Report Youth Represented 18 Percent of Voters”

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  2. What Made the Difference Tonight: Youth Turnout : Think Youth | Progressive News and Opinion from America’s Youth Says:

    [...] November on the night of this historic presidential election. Young people supported Barack Obama 68-30% over Senator John McCain. Young people ages 18-29 made up 18% of the electorate this year, slightly [...]

  3. Easing Your Election Hangover : theprereq.com Says:

    [...] people (18-29) represented 18 percent of all voters yesterday, up one percent from 2004. To put this in perspective, young people only make up 21 percent of the [...]

  4. The Randi Rhodes Show - Radio, only smarter... Says:

    [...] WHY OBAMA WONhttp://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/11/05/politics/main4572555.shtml The Youth Votehttp://www.civicyouth.org/?p=321 WILL THIS HEAL THE RACIAL DIVIDE?http://www.time.com/time/politics/article/0,8599,1856574,00.html [...]

  5. Presidential Race On Best Political Blogs » Blog Archive » National Exit Polls Report Youth Represented 18 Percent of Voters Says:

    [...] National Exit Polls Report Youth Represented 18 Percent of Voters This is the one point higher than in 1996, 2000, and 2004, when young voters represented 17 percent of voters in each presidential election, according to the NEP. However, this number does not indicate how many young people voted or … [...]

  6. Tom Bil Says:

    Early tomorrow morning, numbers on youth voter turnout will be available. The 2008 youth voter turnout is the only number that represents whether or not there was an increase in youth voting this election. The below chart highlights the difference in the two numbers. The youth share (percentage of voters who are young) has stayed steady since 1996 as more people of every age have voted. Youth turnout, on the other hand, has grown consistently, with nearly half of all 18-29 year olds voting in the 2004 election. What a numbers. I hope they are correct.

  7. Folding Lawn Chairs Says:

    This is a good turnout of the youth voters. At least, our youth has become proactive…realizing that their future lies in the hands of the leaders they are going to choose.

  8. Peter H Says:

    I hope our youth will change, otherwise we are doomed.

  9. Scarlett - Gardening Advices Says:

    Yes, Peter’s comment is really eloquent as well as conspicuous. The grain of raison is quite obvious here, so the measures are indispensable

  10. godaddy promo code Says:

    Looks like the fastest rate of change has been the last four years, the obama effect no doubt :)

  11. Keiy Says:

    Youth is nation’s hope for future, and they should change for good sake.

  12. Shingles Symptoms Says:

    Youth are our future and they should participate in things that decide and lead the future of our nation.

  13. Aptitude Questions Says:

    Yes, Peter’s comment is really eloquent as well as conspicuous.

  14. Jerry Says:

    No doubt with the result. President Obama was on the lead. People are getting wiser when it comes to voting the right candidate.

  15. EzineLab Says:

    The table of numbers on this research is very great, it very useful with my study.
    Thank you.

  16. Richard Sharpe Says:

    It is no suprise that young people vote favour someone 20 years older than someone 40 years older.

  17. Cordless phones Says:

    I am suprised the differential was that small in the clinton years

  18. FinnX Says:

    All these talk about youths being apathy about politics is wrong.

  19. newdiver Says:

    Excellent sign that our youths are more involved in politics now.

    beginner diver

  20. used electric wheelchairs Says:

    I wont be able to see this turnout in my country.

  21. enjoysingledom Says:

    i think new media has a part to play in this youth interest.

  22. toilets Says:

    The media has a strong influence over the youth of America. I think the youth of America will be fine. They are after all youth. It just takes time just like every generation.

  23. cheap toilets Says:

    The youth need to be trusted to make their own choices!
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  24. LasikProcedure Says:

    That shows that young people want a new type of leader.

  25. Pool Remodeling Says:

    I am impressed that that many of our young people are getting out and voting. Going from less than a 2% deviation to 18% is enormous.

  26. Vista Drivers Says:

    It’s good to know they are voting, but do you think some of them vote for him only because he’s young and he has a trendy wife?

  27. San Diego Criminal Attorneys Says:

    You think that they are voting for him just because of what his wife looks like? I think that’s a little judgmental, but that’s just my opinion.

  28. bathroom wall panels Says:

    This is good news for a change. Now if we could just convince the rest of the generations that have started to lose confidence in the government to vote, then we would really be on the right path.

  29. meditation forums Says:

    Seriously, I don’t think we can speculate as to the reasons why. They should do some kind of anonymous poll of just the young people as to why they preferred Obama.

  30. Men's Swimwear Says:

    Aren’t there already surveys that are done to gather data for why people voted the way they did? I’d think that there is. Will have to do a little searching and will post back if I find anything.

  31. custody laws Says:

    I’m surprised that there isn’t any official numbers of voters by age. I figured they’d want to know statistics like that.

  32. Jasonn Says:

    It’s interesting to see such a huge swing in just a few years. I wonder if it can be attributed to the candidates or an overall change in youth ideals.

  33. software negozio Says:

    This is very interesting to see how many young people preferred Obama. Where can we find the CPS voting data that came out in the spring?

  34. games Says:

    It’s good to know they are voting, but do you think some of them vote for him only because he’s young and he has a trendy wife?

  35. Toilets Says:

    Hopefully we will get out of this economic mess. It doesn’t really matter who is president. We need to get out of this disaster

  36. Low Flow Toilets Says:

    I agree that it is great that the youth are finally being proactive. Hopefully it wasn’t just some cool trend that will quickly fizzle.

  37. portrait from photo Says:

    I don’t know if voting stats should be released. As it was said, it’s not a race or competition between age groups, genders, etc…

  38. baju Says:

    I think, not only free from the economic crisis. but we also need to choose the right president for the future. Finally resolved this problem dapet well. I hope the economic crisis will not happen again. worn from many effects of the economic crisis.

  39. fotografia ślubna Bielsko Says:

    That shows that young people want a new type of leader. – agree

  40. pokemon shop Says:

    Apparently, young people don’t really understand what they’re voting for. While McCain/Palen weren’t a great choice, they would have better than the catastrophe we have now.

  41. business money discussion Says:

    I am very impressed with Obama. in can get the title of president in America. Can we know that there had never been a black man who served as president of the United States. I hope, Obama in resolving problems that occur in this world.

  42. canada online Says:

    I hope, Obama wll be great

  43. Apartments for sale Milton Keynes Says:

    Amazing article. The 2008 youth voter turnout is the only number that represents whether or not there was an increase in youth voting this election. The below chart highlights the difference in the two numbers.

  44. New Gadgets Says:

    Obama was elected President of the United States. I hope, Obama can provide something useful of this earth. and Obama can deliver this Earth from the war.

  45. bad credit mobiles Says:

    I wasn’t surprised by these statistics ONE BIT – it’s obvious why Obama was more popular with the younger generation. He could relate to them more, with his own youth. He was also charismatic, witty and well spoken which are attributed the younger generation like especially.

    Furthermore, it seems in the U.S the younger generation are more left leaning. I think with these two factors in mind, it’s no wonder why Obama won. The young people made the difference (who I may add, he brought out in huge numbers – younger voters have never voted so much1)

  46. Speeding fines & Tickets Says:

    Since Obama was elected the US President I too was hoping Obama can provide something useful for this earth. We need to save the world!

  47. Compromise Agreement Says:

    Compromise Agreement’s are not high on obama’s agenda but they will have an effect at some point in the future when he liase’s with Japan

  48. Builder Manchester Says:

    Brilliant comments.

  49. webkatalog Says:

    These are really intresting datas. thx

  50. technology news Says:

    Congratulations on the election of Obama as President of the U.S. and became the first black person to become president in America. I hope, Obama can solve problems in various parts of the world. especially the problem of war is happening right now. Many casualties because of the incessant war.

  51. giochi Says:

    Very interesting article. Thank you

  52. In Ear Kopfhörer Says:

    I am believing in Obama and am sure that he will move even bigger things than he already did.

  53. stackable birthstone rings Says:

    The fact that Obama can motivate more youths to vote actually speaks volume for the kind of charisma and chemistry that our current President has.

  54. Adsense Information Says:

    I strongly support Obama, he made a new history of the presidency in america. I hope Obama better than Bush. and I really hope Obama stop the war on this Earth. Because, many victims in the war. including American soldiers.

  55. ClubPenguinCheats Says:

    The below chart highlights the difference in the two numbers. The youth share (percentage of voters who are young) has stayed steady since 1996 as more people of every age have voted. Youth turnout, on the other hand, has grown consistently, with nearly half of all 18-29 year olds voting in the 2004 election. What a numbers. I hope they are correct.

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  57. Ann Says:

    Ask for Obama:
    Will we ever see high-speed passenger rail service in the U.S.?

  58. Ned Gary Says:

    Hey Ann,
    ask Obama on other site.

  59. james Says:

    Youth are our future and they should participate in things that decide and lead the future of our nation.

  60. Vintage go kart Says:

    Thank you for this analysis because I’m student of sociological department and I need such surveys for my diploma. I think I can take this subject for the basis. Keep up your work.

  61. Los jóvenes abandonaron a los republicanos: Analistas | Hacia el Voto 2010 Says:

    [...] encuesta nacional encontró la misma tendencia en el total del voto nacional para representantes a la cámara baja. [...]

  62. hats shop Says:

    I wasn’t surprised by these statistics ONE BIT – it’s obvious why Obama was more popular with the younger generation. He could relate to them more, with his own youth. He was also charismatic, witty and well spoken which are attributed the younger generation like especially.

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