Wednesday, March 07, 2007
The Tidal Force of the Youth Vote
The excellent Music for America website compiled some great 2006 election data on the Youth Vote.
Some interesting facts:
In 36 "youth dense precincts" in Colorado, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin [all are swing states, too]- which were targeted by the student PIRGS [and many other grassroots groups!] - turnout was 6 times the national average.
Young voters chose Democrats over Republicans by 22% points (60% to 38%). This is more than double every other demographic.
And a conclusion:
If you ask us to participate we will. Now it's up to the Democratic party, and all the instruments of progressive politics, to reach out to our generation and help bring as many of us into the movement as possible. This means more money put into young voter programs, more training, more internships - genuine investments in building the infrastructure to engage and train Millenial voters.
This is the future progressive majority in action.
Betty would like to add one caveat to this exciting news. Based on her own work with political youth organizations, she's learned that young and first-time voters tend to be more inspired to vote for issues rather than for (usually white, male, privileged, middle-aged, so easy to relate to!) candidates, so this good turnout in 2006 may not translate into anything candidate-related in 2008. UNLESS, and this is a big unless, the candidates start getting specific (we mean beyond "hope" and "starting a conversation" here - although the "two Americas" idea isn't half bad) and start pushing hardcore issues that matter to everyone - like health care, education, the air we breathe and the quality of our environment(s), economic justice and civil rights. This may or may not begin to happen as the campaigns roll on. We ARE 18 months early for election season, SENATORS!! Get back to work.
Still, Betty knows the youth vote is critical - fostering political engagement among first-time voters goes far - especially in local races. Just look at the minimum wage victory in Ohio this fall.