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conducts research on the civic and political engagement of young Americans.
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Youth Turnout: At Least 49%, 22-23 Million Under-30 Voted

Youth Vote, Strongly for Obama, Determines Outcome in Key Battleground States of PA, VA, FL, and OH

Medford/Somerville, Mass. –  The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) – the preeminent youth research organization at Tufts University – this morning released an exclusive turnout estimate showing that 22-23 million young Americans (ages 18-29), or at least 49%, voted in Tuesday’s presidential election, according to national exit polls, demographic data, and current counts of votes cast.

In Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia, if Romney had won half the youth vote, or if young people had stayed home all together, he would have won those key battleground states.  A switch of those 80 electoral votes would have also changed the presidency, electing Romney as president.  (More on that analysis here.) Young people represented 19% of the voters in yesterday’s election, with President Obama winning the majority of those votes over Governor Romney by 60% to 37%, according to the early released NEP.

“Confounding almost all predictions, the youth vote held up in 2012 and yet again was the deciding factor in determining which candidate was elected President of the United States,” said CIRCLE director Peter Levine. “Young people are energized and committed voters. Youth turnout of around 50% is the ‘new normal’ for presidential elections. Considering that there are 46 million people between 18 and 29, this level of turnout makes them an essential political bloc. Right now, they form a key part of the Democrats’ national coalition. Republicans must find a way to compete for their votes.”

According to CIRCLE’s exclusive estimate, youth voter turnout was at least 49.3%, based on data from about 97% of precincts that have fully reported their votes as of Wednesday morning. Youth turnout may reach 51% when the remaining 3% of precincts report. The minimum CIRCLE estimated at the same point in time in 2008 was 48.3%, but our 2008 estimate rose to 52% as more precincts reported. That means that 2004, 2008, and 2012 have been three strong elections in a row  for youth, with turnout in the vicinity of 50% each time, compared to just 37% in 1996 and 41% in 2000.

These estimates are subject to change, because in several states, less than 95% of precincts are reporting. Also, in some past years, the National Exit Polls (NEP), conducted by Edison Research, have adjusted their statistics in the first few days after an election. CIRCLE estimates youth voting after elections based on several variables, including the total number of ballots counted and the exit polls. These variables are subject to change in the hours and days after an election.

Young voters favored Obama by a 24-point margin. The average gap from 1976 through 2004 was only about two percentage points, as young voters basically supported the same candidate as older voters in most elections.

“Turnout” means the percentage of eligible citizens who voted, and youth voter turnout is the percentage of eligible 18-29 year olds who voted. CIRCLE’s final estimate will be based on the National Exit Polls conducted by Edison/Mitofsky, the number of ballots cast in the United States (aggregated from data provided by local election officials), and current Census data on the number of young citizens in the United States. CIRCLE has used precisely the same method to estimate youth turnout after previous elections since 1996. Using this consistent method, we estimate this trend:

There is no official count of voters by age nationally immediately after the election. Therefore, any statistic on 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. CPS voting data for 2012 will not be available until spring 2013. Until then, our method produces the only reliable estimate of youth turnout.

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CIRCLE (www.civicyouth.org) is a nonpartisan, independent, academic research center that studies young people in politics and presents detailed data on young voters in all 50 states. CIRCLE was founded in 2001 with a generous gift from the Pew Charitable Trusts and is part of the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service at Tufts University. CIRCLE’s reputation for reliable, independent, timely research has been hailed by experts in the field of civic partnership, such as Harvard University professor Robert Putnam who said CIRCLE has brought “the best and most serious research to one place.”

The Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service (http://activecitizen.tufts.edu/) is a national leader whose model and research are setting the standard for higher education’s role in civic engagement education. Serving every school of Tufts University, Tisch College creates an enduring culture that prepares students to be lifelong active citizens.

Tufts University (http://www.tufts.edu/) located on three Massachusetts campuses in Boston, Medford/Somerville and Grafton, and in Talloires, France, is recognized as one of the premier research universities in the United States. Tufts enjoys a global reputation for academic excellence and for the preparation of students as leaders in a wide range of professions. A growing number of innovative teaching and research initiatives span all Tufts campuses, and collaboration among the faculty and students in the undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs across the university’s schools is widely encouraged.

40 Responses to “Youth Turnout: At Least 49%, 22-23 Million Under-30 Voted”

  1. cyberenviro.org » @gdonovan meet the #youngamericans: 22-23M under-30 voted &a... Says:

    [...] under-30 voted & Strongly for Obama. Determined key states of PA VA FL &OH @CivicYouth civicyouth.org/youth-turnout-… share this ))) COMMENT FEED: RSS 2.0 > Leave a [...]

  2. Study: About 49% of young voters cast ballots | Egypt Says:

    [...] to 23 million people under 30 — or at least 49% — voted in the election, according to an analysis by the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) at Tufts [...]

  3. Young Voters Show Up — And Help Decide The Election Says:

    [...] 49.3 percent, the Center for Research and Information on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) reports, with experts predicting it could rise even higher as more data is collected. This number is [...]

  4. College Students and Young Voters Played a Big Role in Obama’s Re-Election Says:

    [...] would report to the polls for Tuesday’s presidential election may have their answer. New data published by the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE), [...]

  5. Young Voters Show Up -- And Help Decide The Election - LapseRadio Says:

    [...] 49.3 percent, a Center for Research and Information on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) reports, with experts presaging it could arise even aloft as some-more information is collected. This [...]

  6. Six in 10 young voters on Tuesday night picked Barack Obama | AJMBroadcastEducator Says:

    [...] people who study elections. About half of eligible voters age 18 to 29 cast ballots, according to initial tallies by the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University. [...]

  7. “and he really is, legitimately, president of the united states. again.” Says:

    [...] lending a helping hand for those who have fallen on hard times. I’m proud that my generation voted in record numbers and I am looking forward to the day when I can cast a ballot for my peers.As a political science [...]

  8. November 8, 2012 War On Workers News Says:

    [...] to 23 million Americans under 30 voted yesterday, with a turnout rate of at least 49 percent among eligible voters. That figure is comparable with the estimate at this [...]

  9. Millennials and the 2012 Presidential Election | Canadian Millennials: An Abacus Data Practice Says:

    [...] Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University presented data that shows, before 2008, in elections from 1976 through 2004, young voters diverged by an average [...]

  10. Michael.H.Prosser » Blog Archive Defying Expectations, Half of Young Voters Cast Ballots, 60% for Obama Says:

    [...] half of eligible voters age 18 to 29 cast ballots, according to initial tallies by the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University. [...]

  11. So, now what? « project millennial Says:

    [...] for, Millennials, one thing is clear: you voted. A lot. According to the early numbers, almost 23 million of us voted – 49% of eligible Millennials. Let’s be honest: we have a huge influence nowadays, [...]

  12. Pulling Back The Curtain On The Mayor’s Race Says:

    [...] went wrong on Tuesday, according to Roe, was he and fellow Republican strategists failed to expect the overwhelming under-30 voter turnout. The firm bet low and [...]

  13. Matthew Segal: Shaping the Election: Youth Vote 2012 | WestPenn Journal Says:

    [...] According to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, an estimated 22-23 million young voters turned out, comprising 19 percent of the American electorate — 1 percent larger [...]

  14. Matthew Segal: Shaping the Election: Youth Vote 2012 | Elm River Free Press Says:

    [...] According to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, an estimated 22-23 million young voters turned out, comprising 19 percent of the American electorate — 1 percent larger [...]

  15. Jofbow Says:

    Thanks to groups like Student Debt Crisis, Forgivestudentloandebt, Occupy STudent Debt, Economy in Crisis, and many more, young people for the past few years have been discussing the rising tuition rates in colleges, the predatory lending practices, the raping and pillaging of those who can least afford it by Educational and banking money changers, and they are well informed, knowledgeable and thanks to all these causes that they worked with, together, the youth of America rose up to the challenge! The time for change and liberty and justice for all….and an affordable or free education has come. Our young people are the future of our nation…….not the banks and the lenders that destroyed this nation and are holding Americans hostage with their debt-based banking system. This has to end. And the time is now. Goldman Sachs…you should be worried. Americans are not fools.. and the young people made that clear. I say Bravo to them. As a babyboomer… who fought for womens rights, I applaud them all and stand with them. Banking reform, educational reforms must be addressed. The time is NOW.

  16. Matthew Segal: Shaping the Election: Youth Vote 2012 | Political Ration Says:

    [...] According to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, an estimated 22-23 million young voters turned out, comprising 19 percent of the American electorate — 1 percent larger [...]

  17. Matthew Segal: Shaping the Election: Youth Vote 2012 | News Talk One Says:

    [...] According to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, an estimated 22-23 million young voters turned out, comprising 19 percent of the American electorate — 1 percent larger [...]

  18. Matthew Segal: Shaping the Election: Youth Vote 2012 | Tiggio Blogs and More Says:

    [...] According to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, an estimated 22-23 million young voters turned out, comprising 19 percent of the American electorate — 1 percent larger [...]

  19. Matthew Segal: Shaping the Election: Youth Vote 2012 » Breaking News | Latest News Headlines | Top Stories Says:

    [...] According to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, an estimated 22-23 million young voters turned out, comprising 19 percent of the American electorate — 1 percent larger [...]

  20. High Youth Voter Turnout in 2012 Election! What About People with Disabilities? | NCWD/Youth – The National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth Says:

    [...] on survey and exit poll data, CIRCLE estimates that 22 to 23 million young voters went to the polls. That’s roughly 50% turnout among young [...]

  21. Robert M. Brandon: Information Critical to Turning Out the Student Vote | Political Ration Says:

    [...] exit polls, an increase from 18 percent in 2008. Of all eligible young voters under 30 years old, 50 percent (22 to 23 million) turned out to vote, making the difference in several states including Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, [...]

  22. Opinion: Ignoring millennials sinking GOP | The Washington Panafrican Says:

    [...] The Center for Information Research on Civic Learning and Engagement estimates that about as many millennials voted in this election as the last one — even though a whole new cohort of 18-plus voters became [...]

  23. An Open Letter About The ‘Youth Vote’ | kailakuban Says:

    [...] group that moves through the world and acts according to some programmed chip implanted in those aged 18-29 (as these are the completely random ages assigned to ‘youth’ voters).  I am sorry that you are [...]

  24. Half of the Youth Vote Left Untapped: Potential Game Changer for 2016? | The Dissent Says:

    [...] – or rather, how underrated – the youth vote is to this year’s election: according to CIRCLE, “In Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia, if Romney had won half the youth vote, or if young [...]

  25. Facebook likely to play a key role in winning the youth vote in 2016 Says:

    [...] that 22-23 million young people voted in the 2012 election, and more than 14,500,000 of them voted for Obama, the fact that the Obama campaign  contacted only [...]

  26. Opinion: Ignoring millennials sinking GOP - The Prevailing Ethos Says:

    [...] The Center for Information Research on Civic Learning and Engagement estimates that about as many millennials voted in this election as the last one — even though a whole new cohort of 18-plus voters became [...]

  27. Alex Wirth: Six U.S. Senators Call for Creation of a Presidential Youth Council | Political Ration Says:

    [...] to the non-partisan CIRCLE at Tufts University young people decided the 2012 election comprising 19 percent of the electorate. Since we showed up I think it is only fair to ask for a seat at the [...]

  28. Jeremiah Goulka: Rearranging the deck chairs on the Republican Titanic — War in Context Says:

    [...] to the Obama factor.  In both 2008 and 2012, he attracted unprecedented levels of minority and young voters, a phenomenon that might not be repeated in 2016.  Some Republican operatives are also [...]

  29. Former Republican: 6 Reasons the GOP Is Doomed « The Age of Blasphemy Says:

    [...] to the Obama factor.  In both 2008 and 2012, he attracted unprecedented levels of minority and young voters, a phenomenon that might not be repeated in 2016.  Some Republican operatives are also [...]

  30. Jeremiah Goulka: The Botox Solution « Montana Votes Says:

    [...] to the Obama factor.  In both 2008 and 2012, he attracted unprecedented levels of minority and young voters, a phenomenon that might not be repeated in 2016.  Some Republican operatives are also [...]

  31. A New Generation’s Prospects | Barataria – The work of Erik Hare Says:

    [...] There is little doubt that they still have at least some belief in hope and change.   That’s a turnout rate of 49%, nearly matching the record 51% in 2008.  Young people are engaged in our process and apparently [...]

  32. Millennials Vote in the 2012 Presidential Election | Abacus Data Insider Says:

    [...] Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University presented data that shows, before 2008, in elections from 1976 through 2004, young voters diverged by an average [...]

  33. The Republican Riddle: What the States Know That the Feds Don’t – Trading 8s Says:

    [...] generation is more liberal than its immediate predecessors, and they’ve been turning out in record numbers. The electorate is becoming more educated and more diverse — two liberal trends that [...]

  34. San Diego mayoral strategists open up about election | inewsource Says:

    [...] went wrong on Tuesday, according to Roe, was he and fellow Republican strategists failed to expect the overwhelming under-30 voter turnout. The firm bet low and [...]

  35. Political Participation and Canadian Millennials – What Gives? | Abacus Insider Says:

    [...] no doubt that Millennials were critical to Barack Obama’s re-election in 2012.  CIRCLE estimates that about 50% of Americans aged 18 to 29 voted in the 2012 election, eight points higher [...]

  36. Anthony W. Orlando: The Republican Riddle: What the States Know That the Feds Don’t | Political Ration Says:

    [...] generation is more liberal than its immediate predecessors, and they’ve been turning out in record numbers. The electorate is becoming more educated and more diverse — two liberal trends that [...]

  37. Anthony W. Orlando: The Republican Riddle: What the States Know That the Feds Don’t : Quans Place Says:

    [...] generation is more liberal than its immediate predecessors, and they’ve been turning out in record numbers. The electorate is becoming more educated and more diverse — two liberal trends that [...]

  38. Women and the 2012 Election : AAUW: Empowering Women Since 1881 Says:

    [...] majority of the electorate. Voters ages 18–29 made up 19 percent of the national turnout. And one report estimated that, of Americans in that age range, at least 49 percent (22–23 million people) voted. [...]

  39. Youth Misery Index Reaches Body Temp | Regular Right Guy Says:

    [...] when 66 percent of voters under age 30 cast their ballots for Obama, according to polling data from Tufts University and Pew [...]

  40. Taliflo | Millennials’ bold new business plan: Corporations with a conscience Says:

    [...] for causes, value civil service and, based on the last two national elections, turn out in record high numbers to vote. In general, this group doesn’t have a lot of money and what cash they do have they’re [...]

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