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

Trends by Race, Ethnicity, and Gender

Voting rates vary greatly, with young women and Black youth leading the way


In 2012, African American youth voted at a rate of 53.7%, the highest among all racial and ethnic groups but down by 4.5 percentage points compared to 2008.

Source: The Youth Vote in 2012

Since the 1972 election, young women have consistently voted at a higher rate than young men. However, among young women of different ethnic groups, turnout differs. In 2012, 60.1% of young Black women voted, compared to 48.7% of young White women, 40% of Asian American women and 39.9% of Latinas.

Source: Voter Turnout Among Young Men and Women in the 2012 Election

Voting is only one manifestation of civic engagement, and young people participate in civic life and politics in varied ways


Using a technique called cluster analysis, we have identified patterns in young people’s civic engagement. In 2011, we  found six distinct clusters: “civically alienated,” “broadly engaged,” “political specialists,” “only voted,” “politically marginalized,” and “engaged non-voters.”

In both 2008 and 2010, young women were more likely than young men to be “broadly engaged.”

In 2008, White and Black youth were more likely than their Asian and Latino peers to be “broadly engaged” or “political specialists.” More than half of Asian and Latino youth were either “politically marginalized” or “civically alienated.”

In 2010, Asian youth were more likely than other groups to be donors, while White youth were more likely to be “broadly engaged” and Black youth more likely to be under-mobilized.

Source: Understanding a Diverse Generation: Youth Civic Engagement in the United States

Issue positions and party affiliation can differ quite a bit by race, ethnicity and gender


Young women who voted in the 2012 election were more likely to identify as Democrats than their male counterparts. The same is true for candidate support in 2012: young women were more likely to support President Obama than young men of the same race or ethnicity. Young Black and Hispanic women were most likely to identify as Democrat and vote for President Obama.

Source: Diverse Electorate: A Deeper Look at the Millennial Vote

While women are more civically engaged than young men on several indicators, they remain underrepresented in civic and political leadership


For youth who go to college, the gap between young men and women’s leadership confidence expands during the college years.

Source: Civic Engagement and Political Leadership Among Women: A Call for Solutions

Exposure to quality civic learning opportunities is unequally distributed

Youth who attend schools in districts with higher socioeconomic status, White students, and those who are on a college track are more likely to be exposed to high quality civic learning opportunities than their peers.

Source: Democracy for Some

Young people who attended racially diverse high schools report lower levels of electoral engagement.

Source: All Together Now: Collaboration and Innovation for Youth Engagement

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

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2005

Last Updated: 8/11/2014