Youth Turnout Was Higher Than 2008

A bigger generation than the Baby Boomers voting at this kind of spread for the Democrats is a political nightmare for the Republican Party. The lesson from political science is that early partisan affiliations tend to get locked in for life.

Specifically, the relative success or failure of the President before your first election as a voter has a big impact on your party ID. Young people voting for the first time in 1980 broke huge for Reagan because Carter was such a crap President, and that generation continues to lean more Republican. And so it will be with people who voted for Barack Obama for the first time after years of national embarrassment and mismanagement under Bush.

Young voters represented a greater share of the national electorate Tuesday than four years ago, once again voting for President Barack Obama by a huge margin, boosting his reelection.

Voters from ages 18 to 29 represented 19 percent of all those who voted on Tuesday, according to the early National Exit Poll conducted by Edison Research. That’s an increase of one percentage point from 2008. Obama captured 60 percent youth vote, compared with Mitt Romney’s 36 percent.


  1. Jon,

    Voting nightmare? I’ve been reading articles like this for a quarter century, and they never get more true. Tying voting preferences to your first vote is crap. Parties change, issues change, personalities change, people change.

    Here’s something for you. You don’t like 1980, how about 1984? The “generation” that first voted in the 1960s (the divisions aren’t perfect, but lets take the 30-45 bracket) tended to vote at a 60% rate for Ronald Reagan against a credible (if imperfect) opponent. 54% of that age group for George Bush four years later. did they forget that they were Baby Boomers?

    These kinds of arguments are true of you assume nothing ever changes, which of course is never true.

    • Jon Geeting says:

      Party identification tends to be pretty stable over time, and hardens as people get older. Realignment elections can shake up party coalitions, but these are hardly the norm.

      • Um, so voting identification is pretty stable, except when it isn’t?

        Why in the world does realignment happen? Well, because the factors above changed.

        Not a particularly convincing argument

        • Jon Geeting says:

          Realignments happen when events large enough to scramble the existing party coalitions happen. Like the end of Jim Crow, or the failure of a party to respond to economic crisis as in the 30s, late 70s, and late naughties.

        • Jon Geeting says:

          Also demographic changes. Democrats are winning all emerging demographic groups and Republicans are stuck with shrinking demographic groups.

          • Again, demographics have been talked about for a long time. Not buying it, for the reasons above.

            Are you arguing that there won’t be any more realignments?

          • Jon Geeting says:

            No, at some point Democratic policies will succeed at making the growing ethnic groups more well-off, and then they will want tax cuts and vote Republicans.

            I think it will be a long time before the white Southern Republican voting base gets so tired of losing that they allow their leaders to broaden the coalition by moving left on the economy, immigration and identity politics issues.

  2. Chris Casey says:

    Jon, I hate to break up your dream, but 500,000 fewer Pennsylvanians voted Tuesday. Those are numbers straight from the Department of state. Youth involvement was flat, if not down 6 to 8 %. If you don’t believe me, add up the damn numbers yourself. We didn’t have half a million senior citizens die since 2008. I read and analyze actual data. You quote people and articles by blowhards with their heads up their ass. You are no better than Dick Morris, Rove, and Krauthammer on the right.
    Wishful thinking doesn’t make it so. Reporting and repeating the world as you want to see it doesn’t make it so. Those folks rightly have little credibility.

    • Jon Geeting says:

      The article is about national youth turnout, not Pennsylvania. I made no comment about Pennsylvania’s numbers.

  3. Actually no, youth turnout was lower in terms of numbers, or at best about even. It was higher in terms of percentage of the electorate that voted, not the number of youth that voted.

    Big difference. And another misleading headline.

    You really need to focus on details and get them right, you’re way too sloppy in that regard. Start by reading entire articles instead of headlines.

  4. You are indefatigable! Beer is on me next time I am in New York!!!

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