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Youth Turnout on Super Tuesday 5%; Paul, Santorum and Romney Tied for Youth Support

At this Point in ’08, Obama Had Drawn More Than Twice as Many Youth Votes as Top Three 2012 Republican Candidates Combined

MEDFORD/SOMERVILLE, Mass. – Approximately 5% of eligible citizens under the age of 30 participated in the Super Tuesday contests, according to preliminary, exclusive analysis by the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning & Engagement (CIRCLE). Youth turnout was lower yesterday than it was in 2008 in all the states that also held primaries and caucuses in 2008, partly because only the Republican primaries were contested this year. See Table 1 for state turnout statistics.

Combining the five Super Tuesday states in which exit polls were conducted with adequate youth samples, CIRCLE estimates that 88,000 total youth voted for Rep. Ron Paul, with about 88,000 who voted for former Sen. Rick Santorum, about 86,000 for former Gov. Mitt Romney, and about 43,000 for former Speaker Newt Gingrich. These estimates essentially show a three-way split in total youth votes for Paul, Santorum and Romney on Super Tuesday. The candidates performed differently in each state, however: Paul came in first among youth voters in Virginia; Santorum, in Ohio and Tennessee; Romney, in Massachusetts; and Gingrich, in Georgia (see Table 2).

In all of the primaries and caucuses so far (excluding states where there were no exit or entrance polls about youth vote choice), youth vote tallies stand at approximately 201,000 for Romney, 200,000 for Paul, 162,000 for Santorum, and 87,000 for Gingrich. By this time in the 2008 primary campaign, Barack Obama had drawn more than six times as many youth votes as any of the Republican 2012 candidates, with about 1,365,000 youth votes (although more primaries were contested on or before Super Tuesday in 2008).

“So far, the Republican primary shows a strikingly even race for the youth vote, with no candidate really winning the young Republicans’ allegiance,” said CIRCLE director Peter Levine. “The results so far suggest that Republicans have some work to do to build youth support.”

At this point, Romney has won the youth vote in three states (Florida, Arizona, and Massachusetts); Paul, in six states (Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Nevada, Michigan and Virginia); Santorum, in two states (Ohio and Tennessee); and Gingrich, in one state (Georgia).

Because of a lack of available data, the CIRCLE turnout estimates do not include young people who participated in this year’s uncontested Democratic primary.

Comparisons to past years must be made with caution, because turnout is affected by the date of the caucuses and by the nature of the Democratic and Republican presidential campaigns, which are different in every cycle. For example, in 2008 both the Republicans and Democrats held primaries, but in 2012 only the Republicans held a competitive primary.

a Youth turnout cannot be estimated in these states because no exit polls were conducted for 2012 primaries in these states.
b
GA, MA, OH and TN were also part of Super Tuesday in 2008.
c
Pooled estimates of turnout, vote counts, and share are obtained based on the total number of votes cast by young people in the  Super Tuesday states where exit poll data are available, divided by the pooled sum of the eligible citizens in those states.
d
The 2008 youth turnout estimates combine Republican and Democratic primary/caucus participation in each state.

Sources:  The share of Primary participants is obtained from the 2012 primary state exit polls conducted by Edison Research. The numbers of votes cast are obtained from the CNN.com (as of 7 a.m. ET, 3/7/2012.)  The numbers of votes cast in the past election years were obtained from CNN.com (2008).  Estimated voter turnout is obtained by taking the estimated number of votes cast by young people and dividing it by the estimated population of the 18- to 29-year-old citizens from the Current Population Survey (March 2011). For states that allow 17-year-olds to vote in the primaries, we estimate the turnout based on the number of 17- to 29-year-old citizens. See p. 4 for definitions.

a Youth choice in OK and VT could not be determined due to lack of an adequate youth sample in the state exit polls.
b
Paul and Romney were the only candidates to meet requirements to be listed on the Virginia GOP primary ballot.

a The cumulative total vote count for Obama in 2008 includes youth votes from AL AR, CA, CT, GA, IL, MA, MO, NJ, NY, TN, and UT. Therefore, Obama’s cumulative total incorporates votes from more states than 2012 cumulative counts for each candidate. In 2008, Obama withdrew from the Michigan primary. Therefore, he did not receive any votes from young Michigan voters.
b
Information about youth vote choice was available in GA, MA, OH, TN, and VA only . Therefore, the vote tallies for Super Tuesday reflect tallies from those five states.

Definitions

Youth: For the purpose of this press release and estimation of youth participation in the Michigan and Arizona Primaries, we define “youth” as citizens who were eligible to vote on March 6, 2012, as permitted by state election law.
Number of youth who participated:
An estimate of how many youth participated in caucuses or primaries.
Youth share:
An estimate of the number of young people who participated in the primary as a percentage of the number of all people who participated.
Youth turnout rate:
An estimate of the number of young people who cast ballots as a percentage of the total number of young people who were eligible to participate on February 28, 2012.

The youth turnout rate is the best indicator of how young Americans are engaging in the political process. The other statistics—the sheer number of youth participants and the youth share of the electorate—can change because of factors unrelated to youth engagement.

To sign-up to receive copies of CIRCLE’s cutting-edge research on young Americans and next-day voter turnout estimates for the 2012 elections, please email amy@lunamediagroup.com.

To obtain more extensive information about young voters in the states that participated in the Super Tuesday contests, click on the states below:

Alaska
Georgia
Idaho
Massachusetts
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Tennessee
Vermont
Virginia
Wyoming

7 Responses to “Youth Turnout on Super Tuesday 5%; Paul, Santorum and Romney Tied for Youth Support”

  1. Ron Paul Not a Hit With Youth Voters on Super Tuesday | Ron Paul Says:

    [...] CIRCLE estimates that in the states that have tracked youth voters, Mitt Romney has attracted the most support with 201,000 votes. Ron Paul follows closely with 200,000 votes. Rick Santorum has earned 162,000 votes and Newt Gingrich finishes fourth with 87,000 youth votes. At this time in 2008, Obama had attracted six times as many votes from young people as any of the GOP contestants. [...]

  2. Ron Paul’s youth voters stayed home on Super Tuesday | The State Column Says:

    [...] also revealed Wednesday that Mr. Paul pulled in the same number of youth votes as former Pennsylvania Senator [...]

  3. The Obama Campaign: Reaching Out to Young Americans – NextGen Journal Says:

    [...] ballots for then-Senator Obama than have for any of the 2012 Republican candidates, according to data from the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE). The Obama campaign team is seeking to capitalize on the student summits as well as the [...]

  4. The Blame for Ron Paul Disappointments Falls Squarely on Young Voters Says:

    [...] Ron Paul simply isn’t winning the under-30 vote the same way he did in those early states. Research put together by the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) makes this [...]

  5. Why Paul’s Super Tuesday Youth Loss Matters « The 26th Vote Says:

    [...] above graph provided by The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement  (CIRCLE) shows the count of youth votes for the remaining four Republican candidates. In a perhaps [...]

  6. - Study Group America Says:

    [...] CIRCLE estimates that in the states that have tracked youth voters, Mitt Romney has attracted the most support with 201,000 votes. Ron Paul follows closely with 200,000 votes. Rick Santorum has earned 162,000 votes and Newt Gingrich finishes fourth with 87,000 youth votes. At this time in 2008, Obama had attracted six times as many votes from young people as any of the GOP contestants. [...]

  7. Economics, Not Foreign Policy, Draw Young People to Ron Paul Rally - Hit & Run : Reason Magazine Says:

    [...] popularity with young voters was overwhelming in early primary states, particularly Iowa and New Hampshire, but since then other candidates like [...]

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