Drop in Young Democratic Voters in Nevada & N Carolina “Warning Sign for Barack Obama”

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, December 30, 2011
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New Analysis of Young Voters in Battleground States Show Steep Decline in ’08 Democratic Advantage

Drop in Young Democratic Voters in Nevada & N Carolina “Warning Sign for Barack Obama”

Tufts University, Medford/Somerville, MA – A new, comparative analysis of current voter registration data in the key electoral states of Nevada and North Carolina shows a drastic drop from 2008 levels, when a record-high proportion of young Americans turned out overwhelmingly to cast their votes to elect Barack Obama as President. The analysis of these two battleground states for which data is publicly available was released today by the nonpartisan, independent Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) at Tuft’s University’s Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service.

The analysis by CIRCLE’s team of researchers not only illustrates the Democratic Party’s loss of a significant advantage in youth voter registration over their Republican counterpart, but additionally reveals trends that may signal a widespread decline in youth registration overall – both problematic developments for President Obama’s 2012 re-election effort. Although most states do not retain information about the age and party ID of their electorate over time, both North Carolina and Nevadarecently released this comparative data, examined extensively in the report released today by CIRCLE. Additional data and analysis is available on CIRCLE’s website at: http://www.civicyouth.org/?p=3177.

“The state-specific data for young voters from both of these battleground states shows what can only be described as a profound loss of the registration advantage Democrats held during the 2008 election cycle,” said Peter Levine, Director of CIRCLE. “That decline is a warning sign for Barack Obama, since more than two-thirds of young voters supported the Obama/Biden ticket in 2008.”

The overview of the analysis released today by Tufts University’s Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) shows:

• North Carolina — Between November 2008 and November 2011, North Carolina saw a net gain of 93,709 in the number of overall, new registrations. However, youth registrants (ages 18-25) lost a net of 48,500 new registrations, while older adults (ages 26 and over) gained over 142,000 registrants. Of the 48,500 net loss in youth registrants, 80.4% were lost among registered Democrats, a net loss of 39,049 young Democratic registrants.

(A graphic representation of the North Carolina voter registration trend data can be viewed at: www.civicyouth.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/North_Carolina_registration.jpg)

• Nevada — Nevada’s registration rolls have shrunk by a net of 117,109 people since the 2008 election, of whom 50,912 (or 43% of the decline) are between the ages of 18-24. The significant challenge for Democratic candidates in Nevada in 2012, including the re-election campaign of President Barack Obama, is not the ratio of Democrats to Republicans among Nevada youth, since Democratic young people still outnumber Republican young people on the registration rolls by 45,222 to 25,182. However, the potentially, negative electoral impact for the re-election campaign of President Obama is due to the decline in the youth share of all registrants — youth were 11% of Nevada’s registered voters in 2008 election but just 7.85% in October 2011. Given the overwhelming support young voters showed President Obama’s 2008 campaign, with nearly two-thirds of young voters casting their ballot for Obama, this drop in the share of the electorate comprised of young voters could prove a major difficulty to the 2012 re-election campaign for President Obama in Nevada.

(A graphic representation of the Nevada voter registration trend data can be viewed at: www.civicyouth.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/Nevada_registration.jpg

Levine noted that, “retaining an advantage in registration requires intensive effort, because people of any age may change their party identification between elections, and youth are particularly likely to move to new jurisdictions, requiring them to register anew. Besides that, more than 4 million people reach age 18 every year, while an equivalent number ‘age out’ of the youth cohort.”

To sign-up to receive copies of CIRCLE’s cutting-edge research on young Americans and next-day voter turnout estimates for the 2012 elections, please email [email protected]


CIRCLE (www.civicyouth.org>) is a nonpartisan, independent, academic research center that studies young people in politics and presents detailed data on young voters in all 50 states. CIRCLE was founded in 2001 with a generous gift from the Pew Charitable Trusts and is part of the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service at Tufts University. CIRCLE’s reputation for reliable, independent, timely research has been hailed by experts in the field of civic partnership, such as Harvard University professor Robert Putnam who said CIRCLE had brought “the best and most serious research to one place.”

The Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service (http://activecitizen.tufts.edu/ ) is a national leader whose model and research are setting the standard for higher education’s role in civic engagement education. Serving every school of Tufts University, Tisch College creates an enduring culture that prepares students to be lifelong active citizens.

Tufts University (www.tufts.edu> ), located on three Massachusetts campuses in Boston, Medford/Somerville and Grafton, and in Talloires, France, is recognized as one of the premier research universities in the United States. Tufts enjoys a global reputation for academic excellence and for the preparation of students as leaders in a wide range of professions. A growing number of innovative teaching and research initiatives span all Tufts campuses, and collaboration among the faculty and students in the undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs across the university’s schools is widely encouraged.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We should look at the impact of voter registration laws that make it more difficult for students to register to vote when looking at these issues. The Obama campaign will need to very systematic when it comes to building student support, identifying pro-Obama students, organizing them to campaign for Obama and getting them to the polls in November 2012.

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