Official Youth Turnout Rate in 2010 was 24%

Press Release, The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement | April 2011


New Census Data Confirm African American and Asian Youth Increased Their Turnout Rates in 2010 Midterms
Youth Turnout Overall Similar to Past Midterm Election

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Tisch College, Medford/Somerville, Mass. – An estimated 24% of young people (ages 18-29) voted in the 2010 midterm elections, according to newly released Census data analyzed by the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) at the Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service at Tufts University.  While turnout declined slightly between 2006 and 2010, youth turnout remained similar to past midterm elections and tracks a similar decline in adult turnout.

In 2010, as in 2008, young African Americans led the way in youth voter turnout.  Young African Americans voted at a rate of 27.5% compared to 24.9% of young Whites, 17.6% of young Latinos and 17.7% of young Asian Americans.   Turnout among White youth declined more than that of any other race/ethnicity between 2006 and 2010.

“Youth turnout has stayed between 22% and 25% in all midterm elections since 1998, compared to an average of 30% in the 1970s and 1980s. We have to find a way to raise it,” said CIRCLE director Peter Levine.

The report also found a closing gender gap in turnout.  Turnout among young females declined between 2006 and 2010 by three points shrinking the growing “gender gap” in voting.  In 2008, for example, an eight point voter turnout gap existed between young men and women (54.9% of young females voted compared to 47.2% of young men).  In 2010, the gap shrunk to just slightly over one percentage point.

As in past elections, young people with at least some college experience voted at twice the rate as their counterparts without college experience.

Finally, the youth voter turnout rate varied greatly from state to state with a high of 35.7% in Oregon to a low of just 13.6% in Nebraska.

Download the full fact sheet with detailed tables and trends, including turnout estimates by state and estimates of the number of votes cast by young people over time.

Download the press release.