young voters in Kentucky

Two belated notes about the Kentucky Senate primary from someone who studies youth voting. First, Rand Paul did well among young Republican voters. They were his strongest constituency, backing him by 61%-19%. His second-strongest constituency was the generation of retirement age; he barely won the adults between age 35 and 64.

According to Hubert Humphrey, “It was once said that the moral test of Government is how that Government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped.” It would seem that the first two groups have a special fondness for libertarians or paleoconservatives who would cut funding for the services that they receive. But of course, the sample of Republican primary voters in Kentucky doesn’t represent the state’s population, let alone the nation’s. This result simply illustrates that there are pools of libertarian and other non-mainstream young voters (e.g., strong environmentalists) who matter when the total number of votes is low.

Second, I happen to know the guy whom Paul defeated, Trey Grayson, because he has been a strong leader for civic education and youth civic engagement. He focused on that topic in graduate school and then worked hard on it as Kentucky’s Secretary of State. I think Democrats are better off with Paul on the ballot in November, although it’s a risky business. For proponents of youth engagement, Grayson would have made a great Senator. Ironically, young people from his own party helped deny him that opportunity.

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