Youth vote experts from the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning & Engagement (CIRCLE) – the preeminent, non-partisan research center on youth engagement based at Tufts University’s Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service – on November 6 released in-depth analysis on youth voters in Wisconsin during Tuesday’s highly competitive Gubernatorial election.
In a wave election for the GOP, in which Republicans won the youth vote in some states, young voters (ages 18-29) preferred the Democratic nominee Mary Burke by a margin of 51% to 47% over incumbent Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (R-WI). This was the only age group in Tuesday’s election that Walker did not carry.
“Young Wisconsin voters played a key role in helping boost Mary Burke’s numbers and keeping the election as close as it was,” said Peter Levine, Director of CIRCLE and Associate Dean of Tisch College. “Young voters were the only age group in the state of Wisconsin that incumbent Governor Scott Walker lost on Tuesday night. They were also the only age group Walker lost in 2010. However, the democratic lean of Wisconsin youth may be waning; in 2010 Walker lost this group by a greater margin of 55% to 45%.”
Young voters were well represented in the Wisconsin electorate. Young residents make up 19.7% of the overall state population, and the youth vote share in Tuesday’s election was at 18% of the total electorate – well above the national youth share of 13%. On November 6, CIRCLE has also released an exclusive, national youth turnout estimate showing that at least 10 million young Americans between the ages of 18 and 29, cast a ballot in Tuesday’s elections across the country — a turnout rate of 21.5%. The number of young voters in Tuesday’s election is comparable to the turnout seen in other, recent midterm elections. In 2010, the two-day youth turnout estimate was 20.9%, or around 9.2 million young people.
“In terms of both youth turnout and vote choice, 2014 looks like a typical midterm election year as far as youth are concerned. Young people made up a similar proportion of voters in 2010,” said Peter Levine, Director of CIRCLE and Associate Dean of Tisch College. “Although this was a wave election for the GOP, youth still tended to vote Democratic. In the national exit poll data on House races, 18 to 29-year-olds preferred Democratic candidates by 54% to 43%.”