Presidential Race Maps Writing on the Wall

First Time And Younger Voters May Not Show Up

Posted Oct 24, 2008 at 1:45 AM by Maurice Berger

Gallup reports that its surveys do not see a marked increase in first time voters who say they will participate in this election: "Gallup finds 13% of registered voters saying they will vote for president for the first time in 2008. That matches the figure Gallup found in its final 2004 pre-election poll." The polling organization also reports, surprisingly, that its polling of young voters suggests that they may not turn out in greater numbers than in previous elections. Gallup writes of its analysis of young voters in the 2008 election: "Although Barack Obama leads John McCain by almost 30 percentage points among 18- to 29-year-old registered voters, these younger voters are still less likely than older voters to report being registered to vote, paying attention to the election, or planning to vote this year . . . At the most basic level, younger voters are significantly less likely than those who are older to report that they are registered to vote. Perhaps most importantly, younger voters are much less likely to self-report that they are likely to vote." On the ground evidence, at this point, seems to back up Gallup's finding: Florida and North Carolina, states which release updated election-related data daily, report that young voters are less than eager this year. The Wall Street Journal reports that in Florida, "voters under 30 years old account for 44% of those who registered between November 2007 and the beginning of October. So far this week, the under-30 crowd accounted for only 26% of the ballots cast by new voters. North Carolina’s young voters are more enthusiastic, but not much: They accounted for 47% of new voters, but only 36% of the ballots cast by new voters since early voting began last week." These patterns match Gallup's reporting on earlier elections, thus could spell trouble for the Obama's campaign's youth outreach and turnout campaigns (though the Democrat maintains a modest lead in their daily tracking surveys, even when the lower turnout model is applied to younger voters).