Young Voters in the 2008 Presidential Primaries

  • February 11, 2008
  • By Scott Keeter

A great deal of attention on Super Tuesday was focused on young voters, especially in the Democratic contests. Pew polling over the past few years has shown that young voters are trending Democratic and constitute an important constituency for the party. Currently, a clear majority of registered voters ages 18-29 say they are Democrats or lean to the Democratic Party while about a third identify with the Republican Party.

Partly as a reflection of this party affiliation advantage, young voters were the age group that provided John Kerry with his highest level of support in 2004; they were also the age group most supportive of Democratic Party congressional candidates in 2006. Also notable in those high-profile elections was the fact that voter turnout among young adults increased even more than it did among other age groups. The same thing is happening again this year in the Democratic primaries.

According to the NBC News exit polls, young voters' share of the Democratic electorate on Feb. 5 was higher in nearly every state for which a good comparison with 2004 is available.1 In all of the 2008 contests for which exit poll data are available, young people have constituted an average (median) of 14% of Democratic primary voters, up from a median of 9% in the set of comparable contests in 2004.

Read the full report Young Voters in the 2008 Presidential Primaries on the Pew Research Center Web site.