The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

Democrats Losing Young Voters in North Carolina, Nevada


A new analysis by researchers at Tufts University confirms what many suspected: Young people are less interested in the 2012 race than they were in the 2008 race, and the young voters who supported Barack Obama by wide margins last cycle are not, at this point, inclined to back the incumbent president by the same margin.

A new, comparative analysis of current voter registration data in the key electoral states of Nevada and North Carolina shows a drastic drop from  2008 levels, when a record-high proportion of young Americans turned out overwhelmingly to cast their votes to elect Barack Obama as President. 

“The state-specific data for young voters from both of these battleground states shows what can only be described as a profound loss of the registration advantage Democrats held during the 2008 election cycle,” said Peter Levine, Director of CIRCLE.  “That decline is a warning sign for Barack Obama, since more than two-thirds of young voters supported the Obama/Biden ticket in 2008.”

North Carolina — Between November 2008 and November 2011, North Carolina saw a net gain of 93,709 in the number of overall, new registrations.  However, youth registrants (ages 18-25) lost a net of 48,500 new registrations, while older adults (ages 26 and over) gained over 142,000 registrants. Of the 48,500 net loss in youth registrants, 80.4% were lost among registered Democrats, a net loss of 39,049 young Democratic registrants.

Nevada — Nevada’s registration rolls have shrunk by a net of 117,109 people since the 2008 election, of whom 50,912 (or 43% of the decline) are between the ages of 18-24.  The significant challenge for Democratic candidates in Nevada in 2012, including the re-election campaign of President Barack Obama, is not the ratio of Democrats to Republicans among Nevada youth, since Democratic young people still outnumber Republican young people on the registration rolls by 45,222 to 25,182. However, the potentially, negative electoral impact for the re-election campaign of President Obama is due to the decline in the youth share of all registrants — youth were 11% of Nevada’s registered voters in  2008 election but just 7.85% in October 2011.  Given the overwhelming support young voters showed President Obama’s 2008 campaign, with nearly two-thirds of young voters casting their ballot for Obama, this drop in the share of the electorate comprised of young voters could prove a major difficulty to the 2012 re-election campaign for President Obama in Nevada.

Unsurprisingly, both states rank among the 11 highest in the nation in unemployed young people:


Youth Unemployment Rate (20-24): 18.4%

Youth Unemployment Rate (16-19): 27%

Number of Unemployed Youth: 124,000

Overall Unemployment Rate: 10.5%


Youth Unemployment Rate (20-24): 19.6%

Youth Unemployment Rate (16-19): 32.8%

Number of Unemployed Youth: 43,000

Overall Unemployment Rate: 14.4%

With numbers like these, why should young people be enthusiastic to vote for the status quo?

The other states with the highest youth unemployment rates: Washington, Arizona, Mississippi, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Ohio, California, West Virginia, South Carolina, Alabama.

Tags: Barack Obama , Nevada , North Carolina


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