Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Young Voters

I read an article the other day about young voters. It was interesting how many candidates are looking into young voters as a major group to win over.

It has not always been like this. I remember when I first turned 18 I registered right away. Then there was nothing afterward. No candidates spoke in my area and if they did I never heard about the event.

It is 5 years later and now the youth vote is important. This article said "young people will make up 25% of the voting population in 2016" so based on these numbers whichever party comes out ahead this November will be the party in control in ten years.

I do not know if anyone else has ever heard this, but coming from a rural town my parents were told by numerous people trying to help them out when I went to school that "college professors are liberals so if your daughter goes to college she is going to come back a liberal too". Well, my parents are both Democrats and always have been so they did not see this as such a problem. It makes me think though, college enrollment is up everywhere. If all of us are going off to college to become liberals and we are going to be a huge part of the voting population maybe this all means Democrats are going to come out on top this year and for the next ten!

Here is the whole article:
Poll: 73 Percent of Young People Will Vote in 2006 Theodora A. Blanchfield , May 22, 2006
If the 2004 and 2005 elections are any indicator, young voters will continue to turn out at the polls in record numbers in upcoming elections.

Turnout in 2004 among the 18-to-24 year old bloc increased 11 percent over 2000 turnout, while general turnout increased only by four percent. In key governor races in Virginia and New Jersey in 2005, youth turnout continued to grow while general turnout dropped. A new poll released by Young Voter Strategies, a project of the George Washington Graduate School of Political Management, shows that 73 percent of young people who are eligible to vote are likely to cast ballots this November.

“If you ask them, they will vote,” said Heather Smith, director for Young Voter Strategies. “It’s figuring out how to ask them.”

Young Voter Strategies and GW-Battleground pollsters Celinda Lake of Lake Research Partners and Ed Goeas of The Tarrance Group conducted a poll of 500 18-30 year olds. The poll, which was conducted April 27 – May 1, 2006, surveyed youths on their political concerns, likeliness to vote and the best ways to reach out to them.

“This generation will be 25 percent of the population by 2016 and it is likely that the party that wins in 2006 will be the party in power in 10 years,” Smith said.

Young voters are particularly important because voting patterns even at a young age impact how someone votes for the rest of their lives. Lake said that once a voter had supported the same party three times, it was probable that they would continue to vote that way for the rest of their lives.

“Young people voted largely Democratic in 2004. It would be a shame to lose those votes in 2006 and 2008,” Lake, who is a Democratic pollster, said.

The survey also found that 63 percent of respondents thought that the country was on the wrong track. The top three issues that concerned young voters were gas prices, education and jobs and the economy. Forty-nine percent of those polled believed that Democrats would do a better job of addressing their top issue, while 28 percent believed Republicans would do a better job. In a generic ballot question, 45 percent said they would vote Democrat while only 26 percent said they would vote Republican.

Though these numbers seem disappointing to Republicans, there may be hope, according to Republican pollster Goeas.

While overall, young people believe that the country is headed in the wrong direction, 60 percent of those who identified themselves as Republicans believe the country is headed in the right direction.

“Young Republicans are loyal. If they’re Republican, they are intensely Republican,” he said. “They show an intensity other groups don’t.”

Young Republicans also intensely favor the President, giving him an approval rating of 76 percent and the Republican Party a favorable rating of 85 percent.

Young Voter Strategies plans to use the results for a national nonpartisan project to register 350,000 18-29 year old voters. The project will use a myriad of strategies, including e-mail and mobile phone, presentations by religious leaders and college professors and outreach by celebrities and musicians at concerts.

Young Voter Strategies will work with a number of organizations, including The American Association of State College and Universities, The Center for Civic Participation and The State Public Interest Research Groups to register voters. Each project will be followed and analyzed by an academic researcher. Following the 2006 elections, Young Voter Strategies and the researchers will produce a “Young Voter Toolkit” with strategies to help involve young voters in the future.

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