November 5th, 2008
02:20 AM ET
5 years ago

Exit Polls: Young Voters

National exit polling shows 18 percent of today's voters were aged 18-29. While that 's up sharply from this age group's 12 percent turnout for the 2006 election, its exactly the same as the percentage of 18-29 year olds as in the 2004 and 2000 presidential elections.

Seventeen percent of the voters in 1996 were 18-29 year olds and in 1992, the number was 21 percent. That means, if today's trend holds, candidate Bill Clinton will have turned-out a larger percentage of young voters in 1992 than Barack Obama did this year. In Ronald Reagan's re-election year of 1984, 24 percent of the voters were 18-29. When Jimmy Carter was elected in 1976, a full 29 percent of the voters were 18-29.

Among this year's 18-29 year olds, exit polling shows 66 percent voted for Obama and 31 percent for McCain


Filed under: Exit Polls
soundoff (47 Responses)
  1. No Hillary = No Obama

    Idealism will give way to reality and from the pedestal he will fall. The mythic figure will be just another politician, which he has been from day one.

    November 5, 2008 02:36 am at 2:36 am |
  2. Sarah-Kathryn

    While we may not have been the majority everyone expected, I feel we were better represented at the ballot box than we were in the polls. Lots of us (college kids) only have cell phones, and no one called us in the middle of dinner to see who we supported.

    November 5, 2008 02:43 am at 2:43 am |
  3. Big Tent

    Independents and Republicans, welcome to the Big Tent, not just the Democratic Party, but OUR COUNTRY!

    November 5, 2008 02:45 am at 2:45 am |
  4. J.C.

    Beautiful America!

    November 5, 2008 02:46 am at 2:46 am |
  5. Millie

    It's not fair that people under 18 years of age aren't allowed to vote.
    There are people in this country that want to put in their opinion, I thought this country was a democracy? Well, it is; just for those over eighteen. Kids are apart of America too and their voice should be heard, loud and clear!

    November 5, 2008 02:47 am at 2:47 am |
  6. Cory

    The only Major question I have when it comes to what your saying in this brief comment is, What are the actual numbers? The percentages are good, and all but it only tells part of the story. We need to know what the total number of young people in that demographic voted compared to what Clinton was able to pull out in 1992, with out the numbers, the percents only will tell us how people in my generation came out to vote compared to our parents and grand parents.

    November 5, 2008 02:53 am at 2:53 am |
  7. Jaye

    We need some young fresh voices in politics!
    It's time they made their stand!!!

    November 5, 2008 02:56 am at 2:56 am |
  8. Cameron Joyce

    Does this take early voting into account? E

    November 5, 2008 02:57 am at 2:57 am |
  9. freedom7

    America has finally grown up. The majority of Americans have finally gotten past the childish bigotry of the past. I'm extremely moved.

    November 5, 2008 03:07 am at 3:07 am |
  10. MVR

    But you have to remember that a lot of us young voters are in college or even fighting wars and thus probably voted absentee, so they could not be part of your exit polls. I think Barack Obama definitely turned out more young voters than any other candidate.

    November 5, 2008 03:07 am at 3:07 am |
  11. Bill

    These statistics are meaningless on many levels, primarily because they do not account for demographic changes over time. For example, the children of baby boomers spiked at a certain point, and then leveled off. The only true comparison across different election cycles would be to look at the percentage of 18-29 year olds registered, and the percentage of 18-29 year old registered voters who actually voted. My bet is that 2008 would exceed the presidential elections from the recent past.

    November 5, 2008 03:09 am at 3:09 am |
  12. Monique

    The author doesn't appear to have done his statistics work, and as a result this article is potentially misleading. Due to demographic shifts in the last 18 years (i.e. an aging population), the proportion of 18-29 year olds in the general populace may have decreased. As a result, we would expect to see a corresponding decrease in the voter turnout between the ages of 18-29 as a production of POPULATION TRENDS, not VOTING TRENDS. To the author: please do a bit more research. Thanks!

    November 5, 2008 03:10 am at 3:10 am |
  13. Brendan

    Turnout might be the same, however I wonder if this takes into account age demographic changes since 1984 and the turnout of older voters!

    November 5, 2008 03:10 am at 3:10 am |
  14. John (Australia)

    Wow!

    I had become very anti-American over the past decade. I held America responsible for my country being involved in two wars and, more recently, for the serious decline in the value of my investments.

    I viewed America as a nation in decline and stuck in the past. Today I was shown that America is far from decline – today I saw a nation grow and evolve like no other on the planet.

    I salute you America – every single American can be proud of what you did as a nation today. In fact it makes me proud to be human – this is a victory for the world!!!

    November 5, 2008 03:15 am at 3:15 am |
  15. From a grateful election watcher/Brit in Japan

    Congratulations to the American electorate and a special thank you to all the young voters for rejecting the dangerous GOP politics of warmongering, division and fear! With Obama and Biden, the USA will once again regain its standing in the world and rejoin the international community of nations as a respected partner working earnestly for peace and prosperity. You have chosen wisely.

    November 5, 2008 03:22 am at 3:22 am |
  16. joan

    Congratulations President OBAMA!! (:-D

    November 5, 2008 03:39 am at 3:39 am |
  17. Joshua

    Lots of college kids (like me, at 22) vote absentee because we live away from where we registered to vote in high school. My roommate and I both did this. I don't know if that's accounted for in the exit polling they did, but I would imagine a lot of college students probably voted by mail this year.

    November 5, 2008 03:44 am at 3:44 am |
  18. railaobama

    young voters have spoken

    November 5, 2008 03:49 am at 3:49 am |
  19. railaobama

    a lovely moment for America,i love it !!!

    November 5, 2008 03:50 am at 3:50 am |
  20. Justin

    I think it's sad when a Man is selected because of the color of his skin over the values that he stands for. I think if he was a white man he would have never gotten the Democratic Nomination

    November 5, 2008 03:51 am at 3:51 am |
  21. MikeMfromTx

    These stats don't give the whole story. There can be a lot of influences on voter demographics that can move these percenages up and down.

    Baby booms? Life expantancy? Can't this scew the percentage? It's possible to see lower participation of young voters, but a higher influence on the vote, or vice versa.

    What is the percentage of young people that were voting? Whats the difference between this year and previous elections? Those are the numbers "I" would like to see. Then we can really compare the influence different candidates and events have had on bringing in the youth vote.

    I see no real conclusions here. There's not enough real information with these numbers.

    November 5, 2008 03:55 am at 3:55 am |
  22. kc

    Don't forget that this is only exit polling from election day, many many students like myself participated in early voting, and that does not factor into election day exit polls at all, as we can't vote twice.

    November 5, 2008 03:55 am at 3:55 am |
  23. Michelle

    66% of the least experienced.

    So much for lack of wisdom.

    Let's see how they vote after their country is run into the ground by the uber-libs.

    November 5, 2008 03:59 am at 3:59 am |
  24. thirstyjon

    It looks like we have our work cut out for us teaching and training the next generation to discern more accurately what is good. A man showed up and made vague appeals to "change", achieved almost messianic status, and appears to have been elected. Tragic.

    November 5, 2008 04:09 am at 4:09 am |
  25. J.V.Hodgson

    Only the old and cranky stood by the cranky and erratic Mccain.
    In todays world military war solves nothing. Great care is needed to avoid another cold war ( China or Russia again) or a repeat of the MAD era.
    Regards,
    Hodgson.

    November 5, 2008 04:12 am at 4:12 am |
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