youth in the Alabama Senate race

CIRCLE estimates that 23% of young Alabamians voted in yesterday’s special election. Just for a rough turnout comparison, 21.5% of youth in the United States as a whole voted in the 2014 election. We would normally expect turnout to be lower in a special election with only one person on the ballot than in a national Congressional election, and also lower among Alabama youth than youth across the country because just 40% of young Alabamians have any college experience (and college is correlated with voting). Thus I would call the turnout pretty good compared to expectations.

According to the Exit Polls, youth supported Doug Jones over Roy Moore by 60% to 38%. The older vote was dramatically different, with Moore winning people over 45 pretty easily. CIRCLE suggests two interesting contributing factors. First, young Alabamians are more diverse. “More than a third of the state’s young people are Black, and … Black voters of all ages went overwhelmingly for Jones (96%) in yesterday’s race.” Second, Moore may not have “garner[ed] overwhelming support even among youth who identify as conservative or Republican.” CIRCLE has previously found that “some Republican-leaning youth break with older voters on same-sex marriage and other social issues that were central to Moore’s campaign in Alabama. In addition, CIRCLE analysis of the Pew Research Center’s Political Typology dataset finds that only 5% of young people who lean toward or belong to the Republican party are “Steadfast Conservatives” (compared to 25% of Republicans or Republican-leaners aged 30+) while 31% are “Young Outsiders” who may feel less committed to the party and its candidates.”

More detail is on the CIRCLE website.

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.
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