CIRCLE analysis of Clinton and the youth vote

From today’s CIRCLE release:

Young voters overwhelmingly favored Sanders in Democratic primary, but the general electorate offers more potential upside to Clinton than Trump; young women, black youth more likely to support Clinton

The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning & Engagement (CIRCLE) – the preeminent, non-partisan research center on youth engagement at Tufts University’s Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life – today released an analysis of young people’s support and views of Secretary Clinton during this primary election cycle, exploring trends and implications for the general election.

How did Hillary Clinton perform among young people who voted in the primaries? And how did her youth support compare to that of previous Democratic nominees?

  • Secretary Clinton won 20 of the 27 state primaries for which exit poll data are available, but won the youth vote (ages 17-29) in just two of those states—Alabama and Mississippi.  
  • In these 27 states, she averaged only 28% of young voters, lagging far behind recent Democratic presidential nominees.
  • Secretary Clinton performed relatively better with young African Americans and she did better with slightly older youth (ages 25-29).
  • Data from Super Tuesday primaries indicate that young women were more likely to support Secretary Clinton than young men; but young women still supported her at lower levels than did older women.

How do young people overall view Hillary Clinton? And which groups of young people are most likely to vote for her?

  • At least half of young people have negative views of Secretary Clinton, and similar numbers do not find her honest and trustworthy.
  • However, more youth report that they intend to vote for Secretary Clinton than for Donald Trump, who has even lower favorability numbers.
  • Secretary Clinton may enjoy higher support from constituencies who have been especially supportive of other recent Democratic presidential nominees, such as young single women, young Black women, and young Latinas.

Is the general youth electorate more or less favorable to Hillary Clinton than the Democratic primary electorate?

  • The youth electorate in recent general elections has been more diverse than this year’s Democratic primary, which may benefit Secretary Clinton given her relative strength over Mr. Trump with young women and youth of color.
  • Together, young people of color and young women comprise roughly 70% of youth eligible to vote, and young women have historically turned out at higher rates than young men.
  • Voter outreach, always important, is especially critical with youth; our research has shown that young people who are contacted about voting are more likely to cast a ballot on Election Day. 



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About Peter

Associate Dean for Research and the Lincoln Filene Professor of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Tufts University's Tisch College of Civic Life. Concerned about civic education, civic engagement, and democratic reform in the United States and elsewhere.