| Comments 
| Category: Youth Vote
| 10/2/2008 2:12:18 PM CT
Each election cycle brings with it the promise of increased citizen participation, especially among eligible voters aged 18-24. This election cycle is no different. But unlike year's past, the internet will play a crucial role in determining the outcome of the election, especially amongst the aforementioned age group. Perhaps the most blatant example of the Internet's influence is a single link Google added to their homepage; the link reads "Sign up to vote in your state. Get registered today!"
Clicking the link takes you to a specialized Google Maps page that asks for your legal place of residence. Upon submitting your address, Google presents an assortment of links regarding registration deadlines, absentee requests, and other voting information specific to your state; it couldn't be easier. This simple link will alter the election, here's why.
Anybody between the age of 18 and 24 visits Google at least once a day. Many people in this age group have the intention of voting, but are simply unaware of the requirements for registration. This link may provide the needed incentive. Let's take a look at how registration effects voting in this age group. I've compiled a graph of historical registration data and voter turnout for the youth demographic, aged 18-24. The graph below shows the percentage of registered voters and the percent of actual voters in the eligible population:
Source: U.S. Census Bureau [.xls]
As I'm sure you can tell, not everybody who is registered actually votes. The average vote per registration ratio amongst voters aged 18-24 is approximately .78, or for every 100 registered voters, 78 actually go to the polls. This ratio is almost ten points lower than the the national average and presents an interesting question: why is the youth demographic so heavily targeted? The answer is simple, they tend to vote Democratic. The graph below illustrates who they voted for in the past four presidential elections as data prior to the 1992 election groups the 18-24 age group into a larger 18-29 group; the trend however, still seems to hold:
Source: Roper Center for Public Opinion Research
In the past four election cycles the youth vote has been divided, on average, 51% to the Democratic candidate, and 39.5% to the Republican candidate, with the remaining votes cast for other parties. What does this all mean? Any registered voter aged 18-24 has a statistical probability of voting for the Democratic candidate 39.8% of the time, and only a 30.8% chance of voting Republican. The votes unaccounted for are either cast for another party, or not cast at all. This means that for every 100 registered voters aged 18-24, the Democrats accrue a 9 vote advantage. Apply this to a larger scale, such as the Google link, and the participation of the youth demographic could easily swing the election in the Democrat's favor.
Youth Vote: The Power of Registration
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