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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Young Women Drive Youth Turnout

Recently, we posted new analysis connecting young women’s early civic opportunities to future political leadership. We also posted initial voting statistics for young women and men, showing that young women’s turnout in the 2012 election exceeded young men’s by seven percentage points. Since 1972, when 18- and 19-year-olds won the right to vote, young women have been more likely than young men to vote. In 2012, this gap decreased by one percentage point compared to 2008.

The fact sheet that we are releasing today goes into more depth about the differences in how young women and men participated in the 2012 election. We report voter turnout, candidate choice, party ID, and self-reported political ideology by gender and by several intersecting demographics (race and ethnicity, education, and marital status).

Major findings include:

  • In 2012 the turnout rate among single young men was 41.1%, compared to a 48.3% turnout rate among young single females.  In 2012, nearly 52.5% of young married females voted compared to 46.5% of married men.

  • Despite the turnout decline among all young women, African-American young women continued to vote at the highest rate among young voters in 2012. Young African-American women had the highest turnout of any gender and racial or ethnic group of young people (the next highest group was White women at 48.7% and then young African-American men at 46.4%).

  • Consistent with trends observed for all young people, young women with higher levels of education are more likely to vote. Between 2008 and 2012, the gap in turnout between young women with less than a high school diploma and young women who have completed college remained consistent, with a 44 percentage point difference in turnout.
  • Similar to 2008, young (18-24) women in college were more likely to vote than young men in college (56.1% compared to 48.4%, respectively).
  • In 2008, young women – regardless of employment – voted at higher rates than young men. In 2012, however, young men who were employed and young women who were unemployed voted at the same rate (46.2%).
  • Young women voters were more supportive of President Obama than their male counterparts of the same race. Young male voters tended to be more conservative and less supportive of President Obama, but to varying degrees. In 2012, young women were more liberal and Democratic than their young male counterparts. Young Latinas were the most likely to identify as liberal among all groups and young White women most likely to identify as conservative. Young White men were the most likely to identify as Republican (37%, though young White women were close behind at 35%) and young Black women were the most likely to identify as Democratic.

For more analysis of the intersection of youth, gender and race and ethnicity, please see our post-election fact sheet.

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