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Young Voters: A Political Powerhouse

By Rock The Vote

In 2008, candidates who want to win in November must target young voters as part of their campaign strategies. “Winning Young Voters” tells you how to do that.

Young voters are playing an increasingly significant role in American elections. After decades of declining turnout, today’s young adults, the Millennial Generation, are emerging as a political powerhouse – voting in record numbers and playing a deciding role in close elections.
Numbering 44 million citizens in 2008, today’s 18-29 year olds are voting in growing numbers. Turnout among 18-29 year olds increased by millions in both 2004 and 2006.

Turnout of Young Voters
Turnout of Young Voters

In fact, in 2004, the number of 18-29 year old voters (20.1 million) rivaled the size of the much-coveted over-65 electorate (22.3million). (U.S. Census Bureau)

The 2008 primaries and caucuses solidified young voters’ power at the polls.

18 - 29 Year Old Primary Turnout in 2008
* as of March 5th, where data available

18 - 29 Year Old Primary Turnout in 2008

Eighteen to 29 year old voters doubled and tripled their turnout in virtually every primary and caucus of the 2008 cycle.1 Overall, young voter turnout increased 109% in states where comparisons are possible – more than double.2

Not only are young adults voting in record numbers, this group of voters is making the difference in elections around the country. In 2006, the youth vote was the winning margin in several congressional and Senate contests, including Montana, Virginia, and Missouri; in 2008, young adults propelled the winners to victory on both sides of the aisle in many states, including Iowa, Georgia, and California.3

In 2008, candidates who want to win will need to court young voters. Use this handbook as a tool to do just that. Target young voters to win today and to build a powerful base for generations to come.

WHY Target Young Voters?

To win elections today
Young voters are a huge group: More than one-fifth of the electorate is between 18-29 years of age, a total of 44 million potential voters.

Young = New: In a close race, new, young voters can make the winning difference.

Young Voters are voting: Despite the long-standing conventional wisdom that young adults don’t vote, today’s 18-29 year olds are turning out in large and growing numbers.

It works: Young adults can be registered and turned out in cost-effective ways that fit right into your campaign’s overall strategy. And young voters, like all voters, are attracted to candidates that reach out to them. They’ll vote in big numbers in 2008, it’s just a question of who will get their votes.

WHY Target Young Voters?

To build long-term political power
Partisan loyalty develops during the youth vote years: Reams of academic research show a young voters’ first presidential vote and party pick influence their party choice for decades.

Voting is a habit: The strongest predictor of whether a person will vote is whether or not they have voted before. Winning young voters the first time pays dividends for years to come.
The Party that Wins the Youth Vote Today is on Track to Dominate Elections for Decades to Come.

Young Voters Can Make The Winning Difference in Tight Races.

1 Rock the Vote and circle tabulations of CNN exit polls and reported vote totals by state.
2 As of March 5, 2008. Figures are Rock the Vote tabulations of 2008 exit polls and circle tabulations of 2000 and 2004 vote totals.
3 For 2006 case studies, see Young Voter Strategies ’Young Voter Mobilization Tactics Volume II; for 2008 examples, see Rock the Vote’s post-Super Tuesday press release at  www.RockTheVote.com

This content was taken from Rock the Vote’s ‘Winning Young Voters’
and can be found in its entirety at www.rockthevote.com

The content has been printed with the permission of
Rock The Vote, a partnership between Rock the Vote and
WireTap Magazine. All rights reserved by and
to Rock the Vote and WireTap Magazine.

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