youth voting in the news

Here I am on CBS News, talking about youth voting:

We’ve been doing a lot of press work, and reporters’ main questions seem to be: “Why are young people disconnected?” and “What will the decline in their enthusiasm mean for the Democrats?” The implied baseline is usually 2008, when more than half of young people voted, two-thirds of them supported Barack Obama, and more than four percent said they had volunteered for a campaign. You don’t need polls to demonstrate that youth enthusiasm is lower today than it was then: in fact, we could have predicted that years ago.

Consistently, 25-30 percent of young people vote in midterm elections–half as many as in presidential years. Thus I think the appropriate baseline is 2006. Compared to that year, I am not sure that youth enthusiasm is down now. We’ll have to wait for the actual election to know.

In any case, it makes good strategic sense for the president–and the newly energized libertarian right–to try to engage young people. Young adults will not vote at the rates we expect in presidential years, but their turnout could range from, say, 23-33 percent, and that difference would matter for the election’s outcome. Rigorous research shows that young people’s decision to vote is sensitive to whether they were contacted by campaigns. The Obama moderate left, the libertarian right, or both could build lasting constituencies by enlisting significant numbers of young people.

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