The Youth Vote

According to new data released by the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, exit polling from Tuesday’s data indicated that youth voter turnout this week increased by at least 2.2 million votes over the 2004 Presidential Elections. It’s estimated that between 21 and 24 million young Americans voted on Tuesday.

What’s particularly exciting about this news is that for the first time in over 20 years, young voters share of the electorate also surpassed that of voters over 65; young people made up 18% of the electorate.

And it just may have been those youth voters that helped propel Barack Obama to the White House. Young voters favored Obama over McCain 66% to 34%. According to this article from MSNBC, that’s the highest share of the youth vote obtained by any candidate since exit polls began reporting results by age in 1976!

Even more telling? Barack Obama won the overall popular vote by about 8 million and he won the youth vote by 8.3 million.

While it will take some more time to sort through the data to tell exactly how many young people voted, for whom and why, (and how those voters were mobilized using new media), the early signs are encouraging; young people are registering and young people are voting. Let’s hope we can say goodbye to the days of civic apathy for young voters!