college student turnout more than doubled in 2018

My colleagues at the Institute for Democracy and Higher Education here at Tisch College have released their national report on the 2018 election and sent detailed specific reports to each of the roughly 1,031 colleges and universities that participate in our National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE). This research is based not on surveys (which have errors in sampling and self-reporting), but on official voting records for about 20 million people.

As reported in today’s Washington Post, the headline is that college student turnout more than doubled between 2014 and 2018 (the last two midterm elections). It’s true that everyone’s turnout grew in 2018, but college students far surpassed the national trend. My favorite statistic is that turnout rose on 99% of all the NSLVE campuses. Now that is a significant pre-/post- change.

The full report has much more detail on demographic groups, profiles of selected colleges, and suggestions for maintaining the momentum. As always, the actual result (40% of college students voted in 2018) remains too low, but the only way forward is by raising engagement one step at a time, and doubling it is a good step.

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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.