CIRCLE (The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement)
conducts research on the civic and political engagement of young Americans.
The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement

Background: Young Michigan Voters in 2008 Primaries and General

February 27th, 2012
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Michigan has an estimated 1,479,000 18-to-29 year-olds who are eligible to vote. In the 2008 general election, Michigan’s estimated youth voter turnout was 55.5%, similar to the state’s turnout in 2004 (54.5%), but much higher than the turnout in 1996 (41.72%). An overwhelming majority of young voters voted for Barack Obama (68.3%). In the 2008 GOP primary, Michigan voters opted for Mitt Romney over the eventual GOP candidate, John McCain. Youth voters followed suit with an estimated 34,000 of 112,833 young GOP primary voters voting for Mitt Romney. John McCain followed with 30,500, then Ron Paul and Mike Huckabee with an estimated 21,400 each. The date of the 2008 Michigan Democratic primary became a point of controversy between the state and the Democratic National Committee, and as a result, four of the Democratic candidates (including the eventual nominee, Barack Obama) withdrew. Approximately 14% of Michigan’s young people participated in the primary, 13% on the Republican side and one percent on the Democratic side.

During the 2008 GOP primary election, beliefs about abortion divided young GOP primary voters: 66% of young Republican primary voters felt abortion should be illegal in all or most cases. Mitt Romney was the winner among these conservative voters, gaining one third of their support, followed by Evangelical candidate Mike Huckabee. On the other hand, less conservative Republican youth were most likely to support John McCain.

Additional Facts from the 2008 Michigan GOP Primary

  • 112,833 youth voted in GOP primary, with Mitt Romney taking 29.76% (vs. Ron Paul’s 18.62%) of youth votes, according to exit poll data.
  • In 2008, 19% of young Republicans described themselves as Independents.
  • 98% of youth GOP primary voters were white. 62% were white males.
  • In 2008, 73% of young Michigan GOP voters had no family member in a union.
  • 49% of Republican youth primary voters attended weekly religious services.
  • In 2008, a split of 49%/49% either approved or disapproved of the war in Iraq.
  • 35% of Republican youth primary voters described themselves as Evangelical or born-again Christians. 33% were white born-again/evangelical Christians.
  • 62% of Republican youth primary voters felt abortion should be illegal
  • Of those who said that they chose their candidate because the candidate “shared their views”, 31% voted for Mitt Romney, a higher proportion than any of the other candidates obtained.
  • Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee split the youth Evangelical vote at 31% each.

Overall 2008 Michigan Primary (Democratic & Republican combined)

  • In 2008 presidential caucus/primaries, 213,609 youth voted, an estimated turnout of 14%.
  • Turnout was low on the Democratic side because not all candidates contested in the Michigan primary

Michigan Youth in the 2008 General Election

  • In 2012, there are an estimated 1,479,000 18-29 year-old citizens eligible to vote in Michigan
  • In 2008 general election, young people had an estimated 55.50% voter turnout, up from 2004 (54.53%) and 1996 (41.72%)
  • 68.3% of youth voters voted for Barack Obama
  • 20% of youth voters described themselves as Independent
  • 72% had at least some college or associate degree
  • 34.6% of youth voters described themselves as evangelical/born-again Christians, 20.2% are white born-again/evangelical Christians
  • 58.79% of Evangelical/born-again youth voted for Barack Obama

More historical data on young voters in Michigan can be found here.

Find more analysis in our 2016 Election Center. For regular updates in your Inbox about youth and the 2016 election, sign up for CIRCLE's monthly E-Update here.

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