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

December 2014 E-Update

December 18th, 2014
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Updated Youth Turnout: 22.2% of Young People Voted in Midterms

According to our latest, exit-poll based estimate of youth voter turnout in last month’s elections, 22.2% of eligible young people cast a ballot On November 4.

Our youth turnout estimate has increased from 21.3% calculated on the day after the election. These estimates are based on exit polls, demographic data, and counts of votes cast; as the latter number goes up, youth turnout generally rises. A final youth turnout number, based on the Census’ Current Population Survey, will be available next year.

Youth turnout in 2014 was close to the turnout in 2010 (22.8%) and comparable to turnout rates in recent midterms.

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Top Takeaways about Young People and the 2014 Elections

Before and after last month’s midterms, we have offered data and analysis about the role of youth in the 2014 elections. Here are some of our top takeaways, which we hope will inform further research and efforts to increase youth voting and political engagement more broadly:

  • Midterm exit polls don’t define a generation: For example, while young people with a Bachelor’s degree or higher make up 20% of the overall young citizen population, they made up 40% of voters in 2014.
  • Differences emerge by race and gender: In 2014, Black and Latino youth were considerably more likely to choose Democratic House candidates than White youth. Furthermore, White women largely split their vote between parties, while young White men overwhelmingly supported House Republicans.
  • “Independent” youth present opportunities and challenges: A third of young voters consider themselves independents, suggesting that no party has a lock on youth. Since party affiliation is related to voter turnout, the large number of independents poses a challenge for parties and could lower participation.

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Strong Link Between Thinking About Elections and Turning Out to Vote

According to the final
pre-election Pew poll, nearly a quarter of youth (24%) thought about the 2014 midterms “a lot” or “quite a lot.” The trend in attention closely tracks the actual turnout rate in Midterm elections. This correlation reinforces the importance of civic education and voter outreach efforts that get young people interested in elections.

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CIRCLE in the News

In the past weeks, CIRCLE research and analysis from our experts has been prominently featured in various media. For instance:

– NPR: “Midterm Results Indicate Shift In Democrat’s Voting Coalition

– The Atlantic: “A Missed Opportunity to Teach Kids About Midterm Elections

– Washington Post: “Social Media Hasn’t Boosted Young Voter Turnout

– National Journal: “Civic Engagement Can Help Millennials Get Jobs

© 2010 CIRCLE (The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement)

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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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