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

#YouthTruth: Not all youth vote Democratic, and historically the youth vote has often been competitive

August 20th, 2012
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In 2008, almost 66 percent of young voters chose Barack Obama over John McCain. That result has led some observers to assume that young people are consistently a Democratic constituency. But even in 2008, not all youth voted for President Obama. That year, 32% of young voters chose Senator McCain (for those interested in who voted for each candidate, please see our 2008 analysis).

Also, 2008 was a highly unusual year. Typically, the youth vote is more evenly split. Republican presidential candidates have generally captured a much larger share than McCain did in 2008—sometimes a majority. The following graph displays the trend since the voting age was lowered in 1972.

The graph does also illustrate that young people have voted increasingly Democratic in recent Presidential elections. Many theories have surfaced about why this happened, one of which we summarize here.

The partisan diversity of youth is one example of how young people are diverse and relate to politics in diverse ways, a theme of CIRCLE’s #YouthTruth campaign.

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.

2 Responses to “#YouthTruth: Not all youth vote Democratic, and historically the youth vote has often been competitive”

  1. Youth voter turnout climbs as party alignment fades « Jayhawks Decide Says:

    […] Starting in 1992, millennials have voted Democratic in every presidential election. This culminated in millennials voting for Barack Obama by a landslide of 34 percent over John McCain in 2008, according to the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement. […]

  2. The American Spectator : The Spectacle Blog : They Say They Want a Revolution Says:

    […] imagine Mitt Romney drawing Obama’s charismatic sway with young people.  Well, once upon a time not too long ago, Republicans actually won a majority of the youth vote. But the expiration date on that memory is […]