With the Iowa caucus less than a month away, we thought it would be interesting to take a closer look at how young Republican voters have voted in the last few elections. In 2000 just under a third of youth who did not consider themselves to be Republican voted for a Republican. However, this proportion has decreased since then, to below 20% in 2008.
In 2008, Republicans made up 31% of 18-29 voters in the general election. Looking at exit polls from 2008, we find that young Republicans were more likely than non-Republican Iowan youth to identify as politically conservative and approve of President Bush and the Iraq war. On other issues such as the importance of the issue of the economy and support for ethanol subsidies, Republican youth look similar to the non-Republican youth.
Republicans composed 37% of the 18-29 year old vote in 2010. Young Republican voters were much less likely than non-Republican young Iowans to approve of President Obama and much more likely to approve of the Tea Party (though only 54% do). Republican youth were also more likely to identify as politically conservative and say that the government is doing too much. However, the economy remained as important an issue for Republican youth voters as it was non-Republican youth voters.
Compared to Republican voters over 30 in 2010, young Republicans were slightly less supportive of the Tea Party and less likely to say that government is doing too many things. However, both young and older Republican voters reported very low approval for President Obama and Republicans from both age groups strongly identified with conservative ideology. The economy was the most important issue for a similar percentage of Republican voters in both age categories.
In 2008, voters under 30 made up 11% of the total Republican vote in the Iowa caucuses. If past historical trends continue to hold, it is likely that the Republican youth vote in 2012 will be more similar to their older Republican counterparts than to non-Republican Iowan youth. Although it will be interesting to see how young Republican voters compare to older Republican voters in their support of Tea-Party style candidates in the Iowa caucuses.
CIRCLE will be watching the Republican youth carefully to see how the current political and economic climate will affect how Iowan Republican youth vote, and how candidates reach out to youth in their party.
For more information about the Iowa youth vote in past presidential primaries and general elections, see the Iowa page in CIRCLE’s “Young People and the 2012 Primaries” map.
— Josh Tobias, CIRCLE Graduate Assistant