Young Voters Ignored in 2009 Elections
Exit Poll Data reveals decreases in youth turnout in NJ & NY races, about the same in VA
Washington, DC - November 4, 2009
Yesterday more than 30 municipal and gubernatorial elections took place across the country, yet candidates didn’t do enough to generate support from young voters. According to CIRCLE1 ‘s analysis, based on exit poll data from New Jersey and Virginia, youth turnout was 19% and 17%, respectively.
No youth turnout data is available from 2005, the last year of gubernatorial elections in New Jersey and Virginia. Thus making it impossible to make any direct comparisons to the last relevant election cycle. The most recent exit polls conducted in an off-year election were in 1997 in New Jersey and Virginia. In 1997, youth turnout was 26% in New Jersey, and 18% in Virginia; resulting in a seven point decrease in New Jersey, and a one point decrease in Virginia from 1997 to 2009.
“One thing is clear, these off-year elections are low turnout elections for all voters. And the candidates or parties that hope to win need to do so by targeting and engaging young voters,” said Heather Smith, President, Rock the Vote.
Research and testing done in 2005 and 2006 clearly demonstrate a formula for success: register young people (they move often and thousands turn eighteen each day), contact them (the more personal the better), and engage them in a meaningful dialogue on the issues that affect them. Do this, and they will vote. Ignore them, and they will not.
Over the past three major election cycles, we’ve seen young Americans participating and engaging in elections at record levels. For example, in the 2008 election, 18 to 29 year olds were the only age group to increase their turnout since the last presidential election. In 2008, more young people voted than voters over the age of 65.
“As we have seen today, most clearly in Virginia and New Jersey, the engagement of young people does not occur without investment by candidates and campaigns. Candidates interested in securing the votes and support of young Americans must target youth in an intentional, visible, and effective manner,” said Smith.
About Rock the Vote:
Rock the Vote’s mission is to engage and build the political power of young people in order to achieve progressive change in our country. Rock the Vote uses music, popular culture and new technologies to engage and incite young people to register and vote in every election. And we give young people the tools to identify, learn about, and take action on the issues that affect their lives, and leverage their power in the political process. Rock the Vote is creative, effective, and controlled by nobody’s agenda but our own – we tell it like it is and pride ourselves on being a trusted source for information on politics. We empower the 44 million young people in America who want to step up, claim their voice in the political process, and change the way politics is done. www.RockTheVote.com
Chrissy Faessen, chrissy (at) rockthevote.com, 202-710-9941