According to our exclusive estimate, 4% of eligible young voters participated in yesterday’s Illinois primary. They favored Mitt Romney but were his weakest age group. Our tally of cumulative youth votes so far* stands at approximately 246,000 for Romney, 224,000 for Santorum, 220,000 for Paul, and 114,000 for Gingrich. No perfect comparison can be made to 2008, because the order of the states that voted was different, but Barack Obama had at least 740,000 youth votes by a roughly equivalent stage in the campaign.
I think the alleged youth surge for Ron Paul is now over, since he is in third place in a field that is drawing poor youth support. Turnout in November is unpredictable, but young voters still seem unmoved by the Republican candidates.
*Including only IA, NH, FL, SC, NV, MI, AZ, GA, MA, OH, TN, AL, MS, VA, and IL. In other states, there was no exit poll or the youth sample was insufficient.