Election 2008

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Youth Vote Growing Fast But Still Dwarfed by Seniors

April 28, 2008 03:33 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
The youth voting bloc has grown again this year, inviting praise for its potential and criticism of its dependability.

30-Second Summary

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Often derided as an undependable and over-hyped voting bloc, the youth vote—defined as those between the ages of 18 and 29—has seen a steady increase in registration and participation in this year’s primary season.

Noticeably absent from elections in the 1990s and 2000, the youth vote is at its most active since the presidential contest of 1972.

Thus far, the increase has been most visible on the Democratic side, with younger voters leaning specifically toward the candidacy of Barack Obama.

Some critics have downplayed the increase, painting the youth vote as a fickle bloc that has proven to be undependable in the general election.

“Younger voters are a difficult lover to have,” Lawrence Jacobs, director of the Center for the Study of Politics at the University of Minnesota, told the San Francisco Chronicle. “They’re a voting bloc that can betray you and is often quite whimsical.”

Comparing them to the more reliable senior vote, Jacobs suggested those voters over 60 would be far more important in the coming months.

Indeed, this week saw Obama publicly announce that his campaign needed to put far more effort into reaching out to seniors, a bloc that has leaned decidedly toward Hillary Clinton in every primary held so far.

Despite young voters' increased participation this year, voters over the age of 60 have made up a much larger percentage of primary voters, averaging around double that of young voters.

Headline Links: The youth vote in 2008

Background: Voter turnout during primaries

Audio: Technology aiding youth turnout

Reaction: Obama courts seniors

Opinion & Analysis: Faith in youth?

Key Players: The candidates

Reference: Rock the Vote, AARP

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