Elections 2010 |

Low youth voter turnout hurts Democrats

After the House-cleaning that took place at the polls yesterday, it can be a fun and informative exercise to take a look at these exit polls.

The big story told by the statistics is… ahem, drum roll please…

Young people didn’t vote!  Surprised? Oh well, I tried. After turning out in droves in 2008, making up 18 percent of the electorate then – and actually outvoting the 65+ club – the 18-to-29-year-old demographic gave a much weaker showing of 11 percent yesterday.

No doubt, the weak youth voter turnout did little to quell the firestorm that laid waste to much of the Democratic House and, to a much lesser extent, the Senate.

The Washington Post writes:

To be sure, voters under 30 still gave Democrats a boost. Every other age group favored the GOP, including a whopping 18-point advantage for Republicans among voters over age 65. But the numbers suggested Obama's aggressive appeals to young people in the last month before the election, as well as the rally of comedians Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert over the weekend, did little to inspire young voters.

And here in California, the change was even more dramatic:

In California, one of every five voters in 2008 was between the ages of 18 and 29, compared with about one in 10 on Tuesday.

To be fair, the young weren’t the only voting bloc that ditched the party.

Michael Tomasky of The Guardian also notes in his blog that this electorate was whiter than 2008’s, with black and Latino numbers dipping. There was also a jump in the number of voters who identify themselves as conservatives, which Tomasky surmises is due to a lower showing of liberal voters.

Tomasky writes:

Add to these figures the fact that overall turnout was down by about a third, or more, from nearly 130 million to about 82.5 million. That's at least 45 million no-shows, and the exits tell us the bulk of them were liberal, young, black, Latino. If 25 million of these no-shows had voted, Democratic losses would pretty obviously have been in the normal range, and they'd still control the House.