CIRCLE (The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement)
conducts research on the civic and political engagement of young Americans.
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The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement


CIRCLE has condensed its many research reports and fact sheets into a series of “Quick Facts” on the following topics:

Quick Facts pages are updated when new research becomes available.

Civic Education

Monday, November 12th, 2007

On this Page:

Civics is a Crucial Subject   |   Current Results are Unacceptable   |  
Some Standard Reform Proposals are Based on Misconceptions
   |   Educating and Engaging Young People Has Positive Long-Term Effects   |   Effective Practices Develop Civic Skills as well as Knowledge   |   There are Major Gaps in Exposure to Quality of opportunities   |   Strengthening civic education requires more support of teachers   |  
Civic education is a concern for all of us
  |   Resources

Civics is a Crucial Subject
Preparing citizens to be voters, jurors, and members of their communities was the original purpose of public schools. Contrary to popular belief, our survey and federal data indicate that nearly 90% of high school students take at least one civic class, and most states have a requirement. A good civics education also teaches English/Language Arts and skills required for today’s workforce: collaboration, deliberation, public speaking, and more.  Dávila and Mora‘s analysis of NELS data shows that youth who have civic learning opportunities are more likely to follow a positive academic trajectory, which can include staying in school and preparing for college.

Current Results are Unacceptable
Only a quarter of young people reach “proficient” on the NAEP Civics Assessment, and White, wealthy students are four to six times as likely as Hispanic or Black students from low-income households to exceed that level. Additionally, current policies do not have a significant effect and are not sufficient.

Some Standard Reform Proposals are Based on Misconceptions
For example, we often hear that states should require a civics class. But nearly 90% of high school students already take at least one civic class, usually because of a state requirement.  However, in subtler ways, state policies for civics are weak:

  • Eight states (California, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia) include social studies in their assessments of schools’ performance, usually as a very small proportion of schools’ scores.
  • Ten states (Arizona, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Utah and Wisconsin) require teachers of government or civics to be specifically certified in these disciplines.
  • All 50 states and the District of Columbia (D.C.) have a requirement to teach material or offer at least one course in civics and/or government. However, few standards cover skills and dispositions beyond merely factual knowledge.
  • 21 states required a state-designed social studies test in the 2012-13 school year.

States that have social studies assessments

Educating and Engaging Young People Has Positive Long-Term Effects
Students who recall having received better civic education are more likely to be engaged. Discussing current controversial issues (one of the six promising practices) seems to boost knowledge and interest. Service-learning is helpful if students feel that they have addressed important social issues (but unhelpful if they do not). Belonging to student groups increases engagement in community life and politics.

The quality of high school civics classes (defined by the number of research-based pedagogical practices that the respondents recalled) marginally predicted young adults’ electoral engagement and their informed voting in 2012.

An evaluation of the Kids Voting USA civics curriculum found that, two years after the program ended, students who participated were still more likely to discuss current issues outside of class and to follow the news than their counterparts who did not participate. (McDevitt and Kiousis 2006)

Effective Practices Develop Civic Skills as well as Knowledge
Good civic education develops skills, such as deliberation, collaboration, and public-speaking. However, achieving those outcomes requires more challenging standards for civics and better integration with other disciplines.

Action Civics is one promising example of methods to increase advanced civic skills such as collaboration and deliberation.

New types of assessments are emerging, like badges, which are portable online certificates that would demonstrate civic skills, knowledge, and actual contributions. They could be awarded by various institutions (e.g. schools and religious congregations) that may share ideas and set standards.

There are Major Gaps in Exposure to Quality of Opportunities
Youth who miss out on civic learning opportunities are more likely to be students of color and low-income young people.

Education, income, ethnicity, and immigration status are all strong predictors of civic participation and civic skill acquisition. Our analysis of various national and federal datasets indicates that this declining national trend in some indicators of civic participation may be due, in part, to declining and unequal opportunities to build civic skills at schools, at home, and in communities and neighborhoods.

Attending racially diverse high schools predicted lower electoral engagement. However, discussion of current controversial issues in school and parental support for controversial discussions diminished the negative relationship between diversity and electoral engagement.

The consequence of unequal civic learning experiences is not only that disadvantaged students lack civic skills, but they also suffer academically.

Strengthening civic education requires more support of teachers
A quarter of teachers we surveyed thought parents would object if they taught about politics in a government or civics class, and only 38% thought their district would give them strong support. Teachers who perceive support are more likely to be using civic education promising practices.

Civic education is a concern for all of us
To have a significant impact on youth civic engagement, we must work together across venues, programs, and sectors, to create a climate in which youth have  not just opportunities to learn and participate, but also the skills and efficacy to do so.


Fact Sheets:

Working Papers

Last Updated: 10/8/2013

Youth Voting

Monday, November 12th, 2007

The 2012 Youth Vote | Why Youth Voting Matters | What Affects Youth Voting | What Works in Getting Youth to Vote | Resources

The 2012 Youth Vote

  • 45% of young people age 18-29 voted in 2012, down from 51% in 2008. Read the detailed analysis of the youth vote here.
  • In states with sufficient samples, youth turnout in 2012 was highest in Mississippi (68.1%), Wisconsin (58.0%), Minnesota (57.7%) and Iowa (57.1%). Voter turnout in 2012 was lowest in West Virginia (23.6%), Oklahoma (27.1%), Texas (29.6%), and Arkansas (30.4%). Learn about the youth vote in your state here.
  • There were differences in the youth vote by gender and marital status. In 2012, 41.1% of single young men turned out, compared to 48.3% of young single females. In 2012, nearly 52.5% of young married females voted, compared to 48.5% of married men. Find more detailed analysis of the youth vote by gender and marital status here.
  • The youth vote varied greatly by gender and race. Young Black and Hispanic women were the strongest supporters of President Obama. Read more on the youth vote by race and gender here.
  • Although 60% of U.S. Citizens between the ages of 18-29 have enrolled in college, 71% of young voters have attended college, meaning that college-educated young people were overrepresented among young people who voted. Learn about the youth vote by educational attainment here.
  • In 2012, young voters 18-29 chose Barack Obama over Mitt Romney, 60% to 37% – a 23 point margin, according to National Exit Polls. See more information about youth party identification and issue interests here.

Why Youth Voting Matters

  • Voting is habit-forming: when young people learn the voting process and vote they are more likely to do so when they are older. If individuals have been motivated to get to the polls once, they are more likely to return. So, getting young people to vote early could be key to raising a new generation of voters.
  • Young people are a major subset of the electorate and their voices matter:
    • 46 million young people ages 18-29 years old are eligible to vote, while 39 million seniors are eligible to vote
    • Young people (18-29) make up 21% of the voting eligible population in the U.S.
  • Young people’s participation can influence election results.
  • Involving young people in election-related learning, activities and discussion can have an impact on the young person’s household, increasing the likelihood that others in the household will vote. In immigrant communities, young voters may be easier to reach, are more likely to speak English (cutting down translation costs), and may be the most effective messengers within their communities.

And there are major differences in voter turnout amongst youth subgroups, which may persist as these youth get older if the gaps are not reduced.

What Affects Youth Voting

  • Contact! Young people who are contacted by an organization or a campaign are more likely to vote. Additionally, those who discuss an election are more likely to vote in it.
  • Young people who are registered to vote turn out in high numbers, very close to the rate of older voters. In the 2008 election, 84% of those youth 18-29 who were registered to vote actually cast a ballot. Youth voter registration rates are much lower than older age groups’ rates, and as a result, guiding youth through the registration process is one potential step to closing the age-related voting gap.
  • Having information about how, when and where to vote can help young people be and feel prepared to vote as well as reduce any level of intimidation they may feel.
  • A state’s laws related to voter registration and voting can have an impact on youth voter turnout. Seven out of the top 10 youth turnout states had some of the more ambitious measures, including Election Day registration, voting by mail (Oregon), or not requiring registration to vote (North Dakota).

In 2008, on average, 59% of young Americans whose home state offered Election Day Registration voted; nine percentage points higher than those who did not live in EDR states. For more on state voting laws see: “Easier Voting Methods Boost Youth Turnout“; How Postregistration Laws Affect the Turnout of Registrants; State Voting Laws and State Election Law Reform and Youth Voter Turnout .

  • Civic education opportunities in school have been shown to increase the likelihood that a young person will vote. These opportunities range from social studies classes to simulations of democratic processes and discussion of current issues. Unfortunately, many youth do not have these civic education opportunities, as research has shown that those in more white and/or more affluent schools are more likely to have these opportunities.
  • A young person’s home environment can have a large impact on their engagement. Youth who live in a place where members of their household are engaged and vote are more likely to do so themselves.

What Works in Getting Youth to Vote

  • Registration is sometimes a larger hurdle than the act of voting itself. Thus showing young people where to get reliable information on registration is helpful.
  • Personalized and interactive contact counts. The most effective way of getting a new voter is the in-person door-knock by a peer; the least effective is an automated phone call.
    • The medium is more important than the message. Partisan and nonpartisan, negative and positive messages seem to work about the same. The important factor is the degree to which the contact is personalized.
    • Canvassing costs $11 to $14 per new vote, followed closely by phone banks at $10 to $25 per new vote. Robocalls mobilize so few voters that they cost $275 per new vote. (These costs are figured per vote that would not be cast without the mobilizing effort).


A voter turnout time series for 1972-2010 (Excel spreadsheet)

Fact Sheets:






Research Report:

Working Papers:





For more information on youth voting:

Last Updated: 7/17/2013

Non-College Youth

Monday, November 12th, 2007

On this page:

Demographics of Non-College Youth | Indicators of Civic Engagement | Voting and Educational Attainment

The data on this page come from CIRCLE’s report That’s Not Democracy.” How Out-of-School Youth Engage in Civic Life & What Stands in Their Way.

Reporters and others routinely equate college students with young people, making the many young adults who have no college experience almost invisible. College attendance is a strong predictor of civic engagement. Low levels of conventional measures of civic engagement among non-college youth translate into inequalities in political and civic participation by race, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, and geography.

Demographics of Non-College Youth

Young people without college experience are a very diverse group. However, compared to the racial and ethnic breakdown of the overall youth population, non-college youth are more likely to be Latino or African-American, male and unemployed.

That largest group of non-college youth live in the suburbs (38%). Youth with no college experience are more likely than the general youth population to be from urban areas.

Indicators of Civic Engagement

Surveys show that the majority of non-college youth have low levels of civic engagement. Youth with college experience are even more likely to be a member of a union.

However, qualitative research helps uncover more that youth ARE engaged in. For example, non-college youth are more likely than their college-experienced counterparts to help neighbors.

The gaps in engagement seem to be smaller with online civic engagement.

Voting and Educational Attainment

Youth voter turnout in the United States is highly correlated to educational attainment. The more educational experience a young person has, the more likely they are to vote.

For youth, often, voter registration is a larger step than the act of voting. Yet, registration is also highly correlated with education.

However, when youth are registered to vote, they do turn out in high numbers. The graphic below shows that when registered non-college youth (18-29 and 18-24) vote at virtually the same rate as older registered groups. The main difference (in red) is the registration rate difference between the groups.

Last Updated: 8/23/2012

Youth Demographics

Monday, November 12th, 2007

On this page:

Youth Population by the Numbers | Racial & Ethnic Make-up of Youth in US | College Students | Unemployment

Young people come to politics from a wide variety of experiences. They are diverse in terms of racial and ethnic backgrounds, educational experience, and work situation. The following is a brief summary of key facts about young people: who they are, where they live, and what they are currently doing in life.

Youth Population by the Numbers

  • There are 46 million young people under 30 who are eligible to vote in the 2012 election[1]
  • There are 17 million eligible young voters between 18-21 years old[2]
  • Youth (18-29) make up 21.3% of the eligible voter population in 2012
  • New eligible voters (18-21) make up 7.5% of the eligible voting population

States with the highest percentage of eligible young voters (18-29)

  • Utah (27.8%)
  • Washington, DC (26.2%)
  • California (23.5%)
  • Arkansas (23.2%)
  • Texas (23.10%)

States with highest percentage of NEW eligible voters (18-21)

  • Massachusetts (9.5%)
  • California (9.0%)
  • Utah (8.9%)
  • New Jersey (8.8%)
  • Nebraska (8.6%)

For more information on youth voting in a particular state, see the map on CIRCLE’s homepage.

Racial and Ethnic Make-up of Youth in the U.S.

College Students

  • There are 11 million 18-24 year old eligible college student voters
  • 18-24 year old college students make up approximately 24.4% of all eligible young voters.


  • In March 2012 12.6% of 18-29 eligible voters were unemployed compared to 6.7% of eligible voters over 30.[3]
  • Unemployment was significantly higher among young eligible voters without college experience (20.1%) than among young eligible voters with college experience (8.1%).
  • The difference in unemployment rates between 18-29 year olds and those over 30 was higher for those without college experience (11.0%) than for those with college experience (2.6%)

Last Updated: 9/20/2012

Sources: CIRCLE Analysis of Current Population Survey (CPS) 2012 March Basic Supplement

[1] Calculation is based on CIRCLE analysis of Current Population Survey (CPS) 2012  March Basic Supplement

[2] Calculation is based on CIRCLE analysis of 2010 Census Brief

[3]Unemployment figures are not seasonally adjusted

Volunteering/Community Service

Monday, November 12th, 2007

On This Page

Benefits of Volunteering

A fact sheet by Davila and Mora investigates the effect of school required community service on academic performance. The authors found positive links between the two, providing solid research for community service advocates.

  • Students who participated in school required community service were 22 percentage points more likely to graduate from college than those that did not and were more likely to have improved their Reading, Math, Science, and History scores.
  • Similarly, students who performed voluntary community service were 19 percentage points more likely to graduate from college than those that did not.

Read more results about the positive link between civic engagement and educational attainment here.

A CIRCLE working paper by Andrea Finlay and Constance Flanagan finds a link between educational progress and volunteering for young adults (after high school age).

A CIRCLE fact sheet finds that volunteering also seems to ease the transition to civilian life for returning veterans.

Volunteering Trends & Statistics

The actual rate of youth “volunteering” is controversial, because definitions of the term vary and each survey produces different levels. Probably the most reliable estimate comes from the Census annual Current Population Supplement, as analyzed by CIRCLE. (See Fig. 1 below.) These data suggest that the volunteering rate for young adults is around 19%, although other surveys yield higher rates. All surveys find a gap in the volunteering rate between those who attend college and those who do not.

  • The volunteering rate among Americans of high-school age (16-18) hit its peak in 2005, at 33%, but has since declined to 27-29% for the past four years.
  • Considering that the average volunteering rate between 2002 and 2005 was 32% for the same age group, the recent figures are cause for some concern because it may mean that high schools may not be offering opportunities for students to serve at the same rate as they once did or that there are fewer places in the communities for youth to serve.

Source: Youth Volunteering in the States: 2002 to 2009

  • Of these young volunteers, only 19% reported volunteering on a regular basis.

Volunteering rates by student status:

  • Current high school student: 47%
  • Current college student: 43%
  • Not a current student: 23%

Volunteering rate by state AND age group:

Ages 16-18

  • In 2009, the volunteer rate for 16-to-18 year-olds ranged greatly across the country. This age group volunteered at the highest rates in 2009 in Utah (51%), Maine (50%), Connecticut (48%), Hawaii (46%), Idaho (46%) and Vermont (45%).
  • The state with the lowest levels of volunteerism among 16-to-18 year-olds was Mississippi (14%).
  • The national volunteer rate for 16-to 18-year-olds trended upward from 30% to 33% between 2002 and 2005, but it declined by five percentage points between 2005 and 2009.

Ages 19-24

  • Volunteer rates for young adults (19- to 24-years old) in 2009 were generally lower.  For this group, the states displaying the highest volunteer rates in 2009 were Utah (36%), Wisconsin (33%), Maine (32%), the District of Columbia (28%), and Iowa (27%).
  • The national rate of volunteering for 19-to 24-year-olds increased one percentage point between 2002 and 2009 to 19%

Ages 25+
  • For those age 25 and older, 2009 volunteer rates ranged from 46% in Utah to 20% in New York.
  • The overall rate of volunteer activity in the age 25 and above population remained unchanged from 2002 to 2009 (28%).

Where Young People Volunteer

Organizations involving youth (67%) draw the greatest numbers of young volunteers, followed by civic or community organizations (54%) and then religious groups (49%). Political organizations tend to draw the fewest youth volunteers (13%).

Source: 2006 Civic and Political Health of the Nation

Wyoming, Utah, and Wisconsin had the three highest youth volunteer rates in 2005.

Source: CIRCLE’s tabulations from the Current Population Survey, September Supplement, 2005.

Motivations for Volunteering

  • Overall, young people who participated in political organizations (just 13% of the young volunteers) were most likely to be motivated by the desire to address a social or political problem.
  • Most young people who volunteered for other types of organizations wanted to help other people. For example, young people who volunteered for environmental organizations generally did so to help other people (52%), not to address a social or political problem (23%).

Source: 2006 Civic and Political Health of the Nation

How to Encourage Young People to Volunteer

Invitations please…
Being asked is the top reason motivating young people to volunteer (closely followed by “because it makes me feel good.”) In 2006, political organizations were also the most likely to recruit their volunteers by reaching out to them. In the other groups, young volunteers tended to make the initial contact.

Role Models…
Young people who grow up in a household where someone volunteers are twice as likely to volunteer regularly, to be an active member of a group, and are more likely to follow politics and vote.

Let’s Discuss!
Young people who discuss a volunteer experience are twice as likely as others to volunteer regularly. And, they are also 16 percentage points more likely to try to influence someone’s vote!

Sources: The Civic and Political Health of the Nation: A Generational Portrait & 2006 Civic and Political Health of the Nation

What Young People think about New Volunteer Programs and Policies

Young adults are enthusiastic about an expanded AmeriCorps type program – where every young person would be offered a chance to do a full year of community service to earn money for tuition.

However, the majority of young people oppose community service as a requirement for high school graduation. Source: Volunteering Among Young People

1 It is important to note that in recent years efforts to measure volunteering have produced widely different estimates, largely because of the methods employed to measure volunteering.


For more information on volunteering/ community service:

Consensus Report:

The Civic Mission of Schools (released by CIRCLE & Carnegie Corporation of New York)

Fact sheets:





Working Papers:





Research Report:

The 2006 Civic and Political Health of the Nation Report

Last Updated: 1/9/2012

Trends by Race, Ethnicity, and Gender

Monday, November 12th, 2007

On This Page:

Youth Turnout

2008 Presidential Election Trends

The following are the percentages of 18-24 year old citizens (not residents) who voted in recent presidential elections:

White Americans African Americans Native Americans Asian Americans Latinos
1992 52% 41% 37% 32% 33%
1996 38% 34% 25% 35% 24%
2000 38% 36% 30% 28% 26%
2004 50% 47% 37% 36% 33%
2008 50% 56% *** 39% 39%

The following are the percentages of 18-29 year old citizens (not residents) who voted in recent presidential elections:

White Americans African Americans Native Americans Asian Americans Latinos
1992 55% 45% 36% 37% 39%
1996 41% 39% 28% 34% 28%
2000 42% 42% 30% 32% 29%
2004 52% 50% 35% 32% 36%
2008 52% 58% 29% 42% 41%

2010 Midterm Trends
The following are the percentages of 18-29 year old citizens (not residents) who voted in the 2010 National Elections by comparison to voters aged 30 and over:

White African American Latino Asian Americans All Others
18-29 66% 14% 15% 3% 2%
30+ 80% 10% 7% 1% 2%

The following is a summary of the percentages of eligible young voters (18-29) who participated in the 2010 election, separated by race:

2010 Voting African American White Latino Asian Americans
18-29 27.5% 24.9% 17.6% 17.7%

White youth experienced the largest decline in voter turnout, dropping from 28.0% in 2006 to 24.9% in 2010.

Source: Young Voters in 2010 Elections and The Youth Vote in 2010: Final Estimates Based on Census Data

African-American Youth

African-American youth are the most politically engaged racial/ethnic group. Compared to other groups, African-Americans are the most likely to vote regularly, belong to groups involved with politics, donate money to candidates and parties, display buttons or signs, and contact the media.

Sources: Civic Engagement Among Minority Youth2006 Civic and Political Health of the Nation Report, and Young Voters in the 2010 Elections


  • In 2008, much of the surge in youth voting was driven by an increase in voting among African-American youth. Since 2000, the African-American youth turnout rate has increased by sixteen percentage points – the largest increase of any youth minority group since 1972. In the 2008 election, young African-Americans had the highest rate of voter registration among all races of their age group (63.9%).
  • Fifty-eight percent of African-American youth voted in 2008, the highest turnout rate of any youth racial/ethnic group since 1972.
  • Non-college youth generally turned out at a lower rate than their college peers in 2008.  However, young African Americans who have not gone to college fared better than other groups, whereas young Asian Americans who have not gone to college showed the worst turnout of all groups.

Source: The Youth Vote in 2008 ,  Electoral Engagement Among Minority YouthThe Minority Youth Vote in the 2008 Presidential Election


  • In 2010, young African Americans voted at a rate of 27.5%.  This was an increase from the 2006 Midterm elections, when 24.0% of young African Americans had voted.  The relatively strong showing continues a trend from 2008, when young African Americans showed the highest turnout rate among any youth racial/ethnic group since 1972. Despite lower levels of turnout all around, young African American voters are still relatively engaged politically.
  • Younger Blacks represented 14% of all younger voters, just about the same as their proportion of the whole 18-29 population (14.4%). In 2008, they represented 18% of younger voters and had the highest turnout rate of any racial/ethnic group of young Americans. In 2010, it appears that their turnout was about on par with younger voters as a whole.

Sources: Young Voters in the 2010 Elections

Latino Youth


  • Young Latinos are the least likely to volunteer, work with others on community problems, buy or refuse to buy products for political or ethical reasons, sign paper or email petitions, contact officials, and belong to groups involved with politics.
  • Latinos have the highest rate of “disengaged” young people, at 67%. This high level of disengagement may be a function of barriers to engagement, such as acquiring citizenship, that many Latinos face. However, fully one-quarter of young Latinos had protested, more than double the rate for any other racial/ethnic group.

Source: 2006 Civic and Political Health of the Nation Report


  • Although young Latinos are generally not as civically engaged as other racial/ethnic groups, in 2006 25% said that they had participated in a protest—more than twice the proportion of any other racial/ethnic group.
  • Since 2000, Latino Youth have showed a steady increase in voter turnout; since 2000, latino youths (age 18-to-24) have increased voter turnout by 13 percentage points.

Source: The Youth Vote in 2008 and Civic Engagement Among Minority Youth

  • Turnout rates vary greatly within Latino communities. Young Latino men who are not enrolled in college are the least likely of young citizens to turn out (only 25% voted in 2000). However, ethnicity plays a role in predicting turnout.
  • Cuban-Americans between the ages of 18-30 are the most likely among young Latinos to vote (50% vote). However, they are less likely to vote than older Cuban-Americans, 73% of whom vote.

Source: Electoral Engagement Among Latino Youth

  • Young Latinos are more likely to respond to door-to-door get-out-the-vote canvassers, if the initial canvassers are also Latino.

Source: CIRCLE Working Paper 10: Mobilizing the Latino Youth Vote


  • In the 2010 Midterm Elections, younger voters were more racially and ethnically diverse than the electorate as a whole. However, the turnout among Hispanic youth declined in comparison to 2006, but by only one point. The young Latino vote was particularly prominent, more than doubling the national percentage of 30+ voters.
  • Younger Hispanics represented 15% of younger voters, close to the same as their proportion of the 18-29 population as a whole (14.2%). In past elections, the turnout of young Hispanics had lagged behind other racial/ethnic groups, but the exit polls suggest that they may have narrowed or even erased the gap in 2010.

Sources: Young Voters in the 2010 Elections and The Youth Vote in 2010: Final Estimates Based on Census Data

Asian-American Youth

  • Asian-American youth are the most likely racial/ethnic group to report volunteering, both on a regular and episodic basis. In 2006, 54% of young Asian-Americans reported volunteering. The 2008 presidential election marked the highest reported Asian youth (age 18-to-24) voter turnout since 1992, with a rate of 39%. Since the dip in youth voter turnout since 2000, the Asian youth voter turnout has increased 11 percentage points.
  • About one-third of young Asian-Americans said they had worked “informally with some one or some group to solve a problem in the community” where they live, compared to 20% of young whites, 18% of young African-Africans and 17% of young Latinos.

Source: The Youth Vote in 2008 & Civic Engagement Among Minority Youth

  • In a recent study of voter mobilization, young Asian-Americans’ preferences for speaking a language other than English ranged from 5% among Indian-Americans to over 60% of Korean-Americans.
  • Voter outreach among Asian-Americans was most effective in a Chinese-American community that had a strong ethnic identification – including an active Chinese language newspaper and elected Chinese-American officials.

Source: Getting Out the Vote Among Asian-American Young People and Adults in Los Angeles County


  • In the 2010 Midterm Election, turnout among Asian American youth increased between 2006 and 2010, but only by a small amount (one point).

Source: The Youth Vote in 2010: Final Estimates Based on Census Data

White or Caucasian Youth


  • Whites were more likely to support the Republicans, with just 51% of white youth and 61% of white voters over the age of thirty voting for the Republican candidate. Notably, white young voters were more likely to support the Republican candidate (51%) than the Democratic candidate (46%).
  • White youth were more likely to support the Tea Party movement (33%) than young Black and Hispanic voters (15% and 16%, respectively), although they were less supportive than their adult counterparts (47% of whom supported the movement). About one third of young voters, regardless of race, opposed the movement. Roughly half of Black and Hispanic young voters reported neutral feelings about the movement compared to a third of white young voters. Voters age 30 plus had more polarized views of the movement, and those opinions differed by race. Whites 30 and older were most supportive of the movement (47% supported it), while 30+ Black voters were most opposed (60% opposed the movement).

Sources: Young Voters in the 2010 Elections and The Youth Vote in 2010: Final Estimates Based on Census Data

Women and Voting

2008 Election Trends by Gender

The following are the percentages of 18-24 year old citizens (not residents) who voted in recent presidential elections:

Women Men
1992 51% 46%
1996 38% 33%
2000 38% 34%
2004 50% 44%
2008 52% 45%
  • The following are the percentages of 18-29 year old citizens (not residents) who voted in recent presidential elections:
Women Men
1992 54% 50%
1996 43% 36%
2000 43% 38%
2004 52% 46%
2008 55% 47%
  • Young women voted at higher rates than young men in the 2008 election. 52 percent of 18-24 year old women and 45 percent of young men voted in 2008.

Source: The Youth Vote in 2008

  • Single young people, particularly women, are more likely to vote than married young people. In 2008, however, single young females and married young females led the way in voter turnout. Young single females had the highest turnout at a rate of 52%, while young married females turned out a very close rate of 51%. Young married males were the least likely to vote at a rate41%.

Source: The Youth Vote 2004

2010 Election Trends by Gender

The following is a summary of young voter (18-29) turnout in the 2010 Midterm Elections:

Youth Voting (18-29) Women Men “Gap”
2010 24.5% 23.3% 1.2%
2008 55% 47% 8%
  • In 2010, young female voters voted at a similar rate as their male counterparts.  Moreover, turnout among young women declined between 2006 and 2010 by three points, shrinking the “gender gap” in voting that previously favored women.  In 2008, for example, an eight point voter turnout gap existed between young men and women.  In 2010, the gap shrunk to just slightly over one percentage point

Source: The Youth Vote in 2010: Final Estimates Based on Census Data

Trust in Government

  • While the majority of young African-Americans between ages 15-25 believe government should do more to solve problems, there has been a nearly 20-point increase since 2002 in the percentage of young African-Americans who say that “government is almost always wasteful and inefficient.”
  • This shift in attitudes was also found for young people of all racial groups, though not as drastic as among African-Americans.
  • The number of young African-Americans who think government often does a better job than people give it credit for dropped from 62% to 43%.

Source: Civic Engagement Among Minority Youth


For more information on trends by race, ethnicity, & gender:

Fact sheets:








Working Papers:







Last Updated: 1/9/2012