Thursday, February 25, 2016

Turnout Challenge for Sanders: Young Voters Turn Out At Far Lower Rates

Dipto Islam, Feb 24, 2016

Bernie Sanders’ firewall is his mountain-some popularity among young voters. Recent Snapchat poll conducted February 11-14 found that majority young voters consider Bernie Sanders as the most respectable presidential candidate. This popularity among young voters also comes with a turnout challenge. This is a huge challenge for Mr. Sanders: He is competitive because he leads by stupendous margins among younger voters.  

Usually, young voters tend to turn out at far lower rates than older voters (see graph below). In the 2012 general election, just 45 percent of 18-to-29-year-olds turned out, compared with 72 percent of those over age 65, according to census data. In lower-turnout elections, these figures are even more lopsided. Not even in the 2008 primary season was Mr. Obama able to get the young to vote at near the same rate as older voters. Moreover, it remains uncertain how many of the young voters are actually registered to vote and how many of them would actually show up to vote. 

In the Georgia and North Carolina primaries, where official data on turnout by age is available from 2008, registered black voters who were 18 to 29 were about half as likely to turn out as registered black voters age 65 and older. Similarly, young registered Democrats in North Carolina were only half as likely to vote as older registered Democrats. According to Democratic Party officials, 80,000 voters turned out for the caucus in Nevada last week, compared with nearly 118,000 in 2008.

In 2008, Mr. Obama succeeded in mobilizing voters, and his supporters were probably so enthusiastic that he might have earned a strong turnout even without an effective ground operation. Luckily for Mr. Sanders, his young supporters are super-charged with enthusiasm and ready to take on any challenge. Success will be within hands reach if efforts of these super-charged supporters are coupled with an effective ground operation.

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