Uptick in Youth Voter Registration Continues in Key Battleground States 2018-09-26T13:41:56+00:00

MEMORANDUM

TO:  Interested Parties
FROM: Tom Bonier, TargetSmart
RE: Analysis: Uptick in Youth Voter Registration Continues in Key Battleground States
DATE: September 25, 2018

A new TargetSmart analysis shows that a previously reported uptick in voter registration for young people aged 18-29 is a sustained trend, and turnout by young people has increased as well. A previous TargetSmart analysis released in July showed that youth voter registration rates had significantly increased nationwide and in key battleground states following the shooting in Parkland, FL.

The new analysis found that 18-29 year olds are not only registering at a higher rate since the Parkland shooting, they are also voting at a higher rate. Election turnout amongst youth voters has increased by an average of 4 percent nationwide in 2018 primary elections compared to 2014 primary elections, and has more than doubled in some key battleground states compared to 2014.

In July, TargetSmart’s analysis of the 46 states with available data found that the share of youth registrants nationwide had increased by 2.16 percent after the Parkland shooting; the updated analysis shows those gains have continued, especially in key battleground states. With the primaries finished, and as candidates reorient their campaigns toward the midterm general election, the findings underscore earlier quantitative signs that youth voter participation is on the rise in this year’s midterm elections.

The state-by-state analysis shows that younger voters are poised to have an outsized impact in key battleground races. Pennsylvania – which has November elections for U.S. Senator, Governor, and many critical House races – has seen youth voter registration surge by 10 points after the February 14th Parkland shooting. Youth voters make up nearly 60 percent of all new Pennsylvania registrants.

Other states with critical elections that may decide control of the U.S. Senate and House also showed large increases in youth registration, including Arizona (+7.6 point increase), Florida (+7.9), Indiana (+6.8), Michigan (+7.5), Wisconsin (+5.7), and New York (+10.7). The increase in new youth voter registrants in North Carolina is 8 points higher in 2018 than in 2014; a majority of states have seen at least modest, if not significant, increases in youth voter registration rates compared to 2014. This spike in voter registration activity comes on the heels of the grassroots movement to address gun violence issues.

In states such as Minnesota (+6.5) and Colorado (+2.8), the control of state legislatures hangs on the outcome of a handful of races that could be decided by a few thousand votes or less.  This surge in youth participation in the 2018 midterm elections could prove decisive.

Youth voter turnout in 2018 primaries has also significantly increased in key battleground states compared to 2014. Turnout for voters aged 18-29 in Colorado has nearly tripled, from 4.2 percent to 11.7 percent. Youth turnout in North Dakota has also nearly tripled, from 4.8 percent to 11.7 percent, and it has increased sevenfold in Virginia, from 0.5 percent to 3.6 percent. Other states with significant increases in youth voter turnout include California (+9.3), Oklahoma (+17.9), and Montana (+6).

The increased registration rates among young voters outpaces all other age groups in almost all states. Further, the surge in turnout among young voters is also observed in the 30-39 year-old age range, with that cohort also seeing a significant increase in turnout compared to 2014, and in some states, out-increasing the 18-29 group. More data on the percent difference in turnout by age group in 2014 v. 2018 can be found here.

TargetSmart’s analysis reviewed voter registration data in 46 states across the country, where the official voter rolls have been updated since February 14. In each state we calculated the share of new registrants age 29 or younger in the period before the Parkland shooting to the share in the same time period after the shooting. Because states release voter file updates on varied schedules, the time period varies from state to state, but the period for analysis within each state included a symmetrical period before and after February 14. To calculate turnout statistics, we counted the number of people from each age range who voted in the primary election and divided by the total number of people registered in the corresponding age group.

Change in Share of New Voter Registrations Among 18-29 Year-Old since February 14, 2018

Change in Share of New Voter Registrations Among 18-29 Year-Old since February 14, 2018

Change in Youth Voter Turnout compared with 2014 Primaries

Change in Youth Voter Turnout compared with 2014 Primaries

Change in Share of New Voter Registrations Among 18-29 Year-Olds since February 14, 2018

Change in Share of New Voter Registrations Among 18-29 Year-Olds since February 14, 2018

Change in Youth Voter Turnout compared with 2014 Primaries

Change in Youth Voter Turnout compared with 2014 Primaries

REGISTRATION DATA

State Change in Youth Registration Post-Parkland
AK -1.75
AL 1.97
AZ 7.6
CA -0.28
CO 2.79
CT 7.28
DC -3
DE 3.11
FL 7.91
GA 4.09
HI -0.43
IA 3.19
ID 8.18
IL 5.36
IN 6.78
KS 3.48
LA -2.45
MA 4
MD -9.6
ME 8.55
MI 7.52
MN 6.55
MO 2.77
MS -0.92
MT 3.83
NC 2.67
NE 6.55
NJ 1.73
NM 0.56
NV 5.18
NY 10.7
OH 5.3
OK 1.3
OR 2.12
PA 10.5
RI -0.25
SD -1.4
TN 3.1
TX 1.27
UT -0.18
VA 3.41
VT 5.84
WA 2.89
WI 5.71
WV -10.6
WY -6.94

TURNOUT DATA

State Change in Turnout Compared to 2014 Primaries
AL 1.53
CA 9.26
CO 7.57
GA 1.75
IA 2.38
ID 4.1
IL 5.38
IN 3.12
MD 3.57
MT 6.04
NC 0.45
ND 6.92
NE 0.42
NJ 2.15
NM 2.11
NV 2.32
NY 0.81
OH 2.95
OK 17.89
PA 2.18
SD 3.64
TX 2.49
VA 3.12
WV 3.27