CIRCLE identifies top 50 congressional districts for the youth vote

Medford/Somerville, MA – Will the youth vote help shape the next Congress? A new index ranks the top 50 districts where young people could have a significant influence on the outcome of Congressional races across the country. The Youth Electoral Significance Index Top 50 was developed exclusively by 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.

Taking into account the competitiveness of the Congressional races, as well demographic characteristics, the number of higher education institutions in the district, and historical youth turnout data, the index highlights the districts where young people are poised to have a disproportionately high impact this year.

“Young people can shape our elections and the make-up of Congress, but their potential is limited when campaigns don’t reach out to them,” said Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg, Director of CIRCLE. “We hope this tool encourages campaigns, media outlets, and advocates in these districts – and in many others – to engage young people on issues that matter to them.”

Key findings include:

  • Iowa’s 1st Congressional District comes out on top due in large part to a large number of college campuses (31) and high percentage of young people enrolled in college in the district.
  • New York has six Congressional Districts in the YESI Top 50, the most of any state. Though New York tends to be reliably Democratic in presidential and Senate elections, many Congressional races are much more fiercely contested.
  • Colorado has four districts on this list, including the number 2 spot in the ranking: the Colorado 6th, which includes the eastern part of the Denver-Aurora metro area. This district ranks highly due to its competitiveness: in 2012, the election was decided by only 7,000 votes, young people cast a high number of ballots, and the seat is expected to be highly contested again this year.
  • Four Michigan districts make the Top 50, including two in the top 15: Michigan’s 7th District, which includes parts of Lansing, the western suburbs of Ann Arbor, and the southeast corner of the state; and Michigan’s 1st District, in which there are 12 colleges and universities with close to 20,000 enrolled students.

Throughout this election season, CIRCLE’s 2016 Election Center will offer new data products and detailed youth voting analyses.

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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.