His answer was to create a platform where voters can see which party most closely matches their beliefs and where candidates can connect with voters. Some came to me via Twitter, and others through initiatives set up to encourage political enthusiasm and civic responsibility. There are plenty of these — the most high-profile being Bite the Ballot — but they all face a difficult task connecting with this particular demographic. The year-olds in the room looked at me as if I was from another planet and started talking about tuition fees and street harassment. Nonetheless — and with caveats firmly in place — it is possible to tease out some ways in which young people form a coherent group in political terms. Immigration is only 17th on their list of concerns, and two-thirds believe multiculturalism has benefited the country.
Many efforts to increase youth voting focus on getting young people registered. The problem of undermobilization is even more acute in midterm elections: Using data from the Survey of the Performance of American Elections SPAE allows us to deepen our understanding of these disparities by once again looking at differences between young people with and without college experience, and by looking at differences by race and ethnicity. Because the SPAE survey only includes individuals who were registered to vote at the time of the election, it provides unique insight into undermobilized youth and suggests areas of concern that campaigns and advocates can focus on as they aim to increase youth voting and engagement. After that, however, different experiences begin to emerge. Other disparities went the other way and point to obstacles faced by young people at colleges and universities. We know that university students often struggle with voter registration because of difficulties with their address and other issues related to living on campus.
In , the first year to year-olds were allowed to vote, 55 percent of to year-olds cast ballots. Only 43 percent of that age group voted in and just 16 percent turned out to vote in Turnout among young voters is typically percentage points lower than among older citizens.
Turnout at elections is far lower for young people than any other cohort. Few are as uninterested as the young. Such low turnout means that in mid-term years, Republicans whose voters tend to be older dominate the ballot, even though they cannot win so easily in presidential years.