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

Youth Turnout in Arizona 6%, Michigan 7% — More Than Triples in Both States Since 2004

February 29th, 2012
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Romney Places Third among Youth in Michigan, Wins Youth Vote in Arizona

MEDFORD/SOMERVILLE, Mass. – Six percent of eligible voters under the age of 30 in Arizona and seven percent in Michigan participated in yesterday’s primaries, according to exclusive preliminary analysis by the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning & Engagement (CIRCLE).

Mitt Romney was the third choice of Michigan’s young Republican voters with 26% of the under-30 vote, following Ron Paul, who earned 37%, and Rick Santorum with 32%. In Arizona, he won an outright majority (52%) of young voters, who were his strongest age group (see Table 2).

The youth turnout tripled in both Arizona and Michigan between 2012 and 2004. While no two primary years are the same, we compare the 2012 caucus to the 2004 since in both cases only one party had a competitive race.

Because of a lack of available data, the CIRCLE turnout estimates do not include young people who participate in Democratic caucuses.

Youth turnout rate and number of youth votes are based on CIRCLE analysis of publicly available information (see Sources below).

* Combines the Democratic and Republican figures. For separate results by party, see Table 3
** 2004 statistics only include the Democratic Primary. There was no Republican Primary in 2004, because President George W. Bush was an incumbent and the GOP nomination.
*** 2012 and 1996 statistics only include the Republican Primary.  In these years, there was/is no Democratic Primary, because there was an incumbent president from the Democratic Party that took the nomination.

Sources: The share of Primary participants is obtained from the 2012, 2008, and 2004 AZ/MI exit poll conducted by Edison Research, and the 2000 and 1996 AZ/MI exit poll conducted by Voter News Services.   The numbers of votes cast are obtained from the NYTimes.com (as of 6:00 am, Eastern time, 2/29/2012.)  The numbers of votes cast in the past election years were obtained from various sources including the Washington Post archives (1996), Federal Election Commission (2000 and 2004), and CNN.com (2008).  Estimated voter turnout is obtained by taking the estimated number of votes cast by young people and dividing it by the estimated population of the 18-to-29-year-old citizens from the Current Population Survey (1995-2011).   See p. 2 for definitions.

Source: National Election Pool Arizona and Michigan Exit Poll 2012

Source: CIRCLE analysis of National Election Pool Arizona Exit Poll 2008 and 2012 figures are rounded to hundreds.  Estimated vote tally for Barak Obama in 2008 Michigan Democratic Primary is not available because his name was not on the ballot.

Source: CIRCLE analysis of National Election Pool Arizona Exit Poll 2008 and 2012 figures are rounded to hundreds.  Estimated vote tally for Barak Obama in 2008 Michigan Democratic Primary is not available because his name was not on the ballot.

Comparisons to past years must be made with caution, because turnout is affected by the date of the primaries and by the nature of the Democratic and Republican presidential campaigns, which are different in every cycle. For example, in 2008 both the Republicans and Democrats held primaries, but in 2012 only the Republicans held a competitive primary.  Table 3 provides estimates of youth participation in the Michigan and Arizona primaries by party and year.

Definitions

Youth: For the purpose of this press release and estimation of youth participation in the Michigan and Arizona Primaries, we define “youth” as citizens who were eligible to vote on February 28, 2012, as permitted by state election law.

Number of youth who participated: An estimate of how many youth participated in caucuses or primaries.

Youth share: An estimate of the number of young people who participated in the primary as a percentage of the number of all people who participated.

Youth turnout rate: An estimate of the number of young people who cast ballots as a percentage of the total number of young people who were eligible to participate on February 28, 2012.

The youth turnout rate is the best indicator of how young Americans are engaging in the political process. The other statistics—the sheer number of youth participants and the youth share of the electorate—can change because of factors unrelated to youth engagement.

To sign-up to receive copies of CIRCLE’s cutting-edge research on young Americans and next-day voter turnout estimates for the 2012 elections, please email amy@lunamediagroup.com.

Click here to obtain more extensive information about Michigan‘s young voters and historical voting trends, and click here for Arizona.

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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