Super Youth Turnout On Super Tuesday

This story was written by Emily Schultheis, Daily Pennsylvanian
Thus far, this year's primaries have seen a significant jump in youth voting and involvement -- and Super Tuesday's election results only reinforced this trend.

"The bottom line is, the turnout was very much up," University of Maryland research scholar Peter Levine said.

The percentage of eligible voters age 18 to 30 who headed to the polls in some states -- such as Georgia, Missouri and Oklahoma -- Tuesday tripled or quadrupled, according to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, an organization in which Levine is involved.

The organization also found significant increases in youth voting in states like California, Massachusetts and Connecticut.

Levine said Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, who is running for the Democratic presidential nomination, did well among young voters, but New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, also a Democrat, won the youth vote in both California and Massachusetts.

In terms of the Republican primaries, youth votes primarily went to Arizona Sen. John McCain and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

But after Tuesday's turnout, analysts and students ask: Will the campaigns continue to focus on recruiting and appealing to young people?

The Super Tuesday results and campaign efforts thus far suggest that the candidates will continue to look to young people both to win votes and to help sway undecided older voters, political analyst and St. Joseph's University history professor Randall Miller said.

Looking forward, analysts believe the surge in youth voting will only continue, particularly on the Democratic side.

"It would be a huge surprise if there was any abatement" in voter activity, Miller said. "My guess is that it will continue at the same pace."

Levine agreed, saying that the lack of a clear frontrunner on the Democratic side -- Clinton and Obama nearly split Tuesday's vote -- will keep young people interested in the remaining primaries."The one thing that motivates voters at any age is competition and an uncertain race," he said.

Penn students held differing views on the importance of youth turnout in the remaining contests, including Pennsylvania's primary, which will be held on April 22.

Joe Gross, vice president of the Penn Democrats, said he believes young voter turnout will continue to be high, since young people "want their votes to count and to matter."

The Super Tuesday results "bring a lot more intrigue to the race in these later states," he said.

College Republicans President Zac Byer also said he thinks the current delegate tallies will increase student interest.

"I think that our votes are even more important now," he said. "Super Tuesday was supposed to end it all, but all it did was make things more confusing on both sides."

But Wharton junior Adam Berns was less optimistic about the possible turnout.

"I don't know that people give that much weight to the primaries," he said. "I think the general election will be viewed as more significant."
© 2008 Daily Pennsylvanian via U-WIRE