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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Trends by Race, Ethnicity, and Gender

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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

2008

  • 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

2010

  • 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

2006

  • 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

2008

  • 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

2010

  • 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.
2008
  • 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

2010

  • 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

2010

  • 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

Resources

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

Fact sheets:

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2005

2003

Working Papers:

2010

2009

2008

2007

2005

2004

Last Updated: 1/9/2012