The Arizona Desert Lamp

About the youth vote

Posted in Politics by Evan Lisull on 17 November 2008

Apparently, the surge in youth voting wasn’t nearly as great as some would like to believe. Chris Cillizza takes down this fiction in his “Five Myths” about the election:

2. A wave of black voters and young people was the key to Obama’s victory.

Afraid not. Heading into Election Day, cable news, newspapers and blogs were dominated by excited chatter about record levels of enthusiasm for Obama among two critical groups: African Americans and young voters (aged 18-29). It made sense: Black voters were energized to cast a historic vote for the first African American nominee of either major party; young people — following a false start with former Vermont governor Howard Dean in 2004 — had bought into Obama in a major way during the primary season, and they finally seemed on the cusp of realizing their much-promised potential as a powerhouse voting bloc.

Or not. Exit polling suggests that there was no statistically significant increase in voting among either group. Black voters made up 11 percent of the electorate in 2004 and 13 percent in 2008, while young voters comprised 17 percent of all voters in 2004 and 18 percent four years later.

The real story, as Cillizza points out, is that a far greater proportion of young and black voters went to the Democrats. No wonder PIRG played such a role in the UA Votes program.

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