The Youth Vote & The 2010 Midterm: Millennials Continue to Vote, Break for Democrats

For a segment of the electorate that was largely hyped by the mainstream media as being disinterested and disaffected, Millennial voters turned out to the 2010 polls in solid numbers. Almost nine million Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 voted in yesterday's elections. In the last midterm, almost 10 million people in the same age group voted. According to a report by CIRCLE, "An estimated 20.4 percent of young Americans under the age of 30 voted in Tuesday’s midterm elections, compared to 23.5 percent in the last midterm election (2006)."

According to NDN Fellow and Millennial Expert Morley Wiinograd, "While the Millennial vote percent turnout was down from 2006, it was not down where youth outreach efforts were in place."  In fact, CIRCLE analysis shows us that we saw an increase in youth turnout in places where the Vote Again 2010 coalition (comprised of more than 30 non-profits focused on youth engagement) is highly active. In these areas where specific investment was made in the youth vote, youth turnout rose by six points compared to 1998. In contrast, we witnessed a decrease in voter turnout in the seven states where the Vote Again 2010 Coalition organizations were least active. For more data on these efforts and their effects, visit 

Rock the Vote, in their analysis echoed this sentment: “In the precincts where Rock the Vote and other groups invested in young people, we saw an increase in turnout," said Heather Smith, the group's Executive Director. "There was no ‘enthusiasm gap.’ It was a ‘leadership gap.’” According to Rock the Vote, "Vote tallies from  precincts where Rock the Vote aggressively targeted young people such as Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Florida, showed voter turnout amongst those ages 18-29 exceeded 2006 levels." You can read more about Rock the Vote's targeted efforts here:

Perhaps more interesting than the rates at which this demographic turned out is who they turned out for.  Young voters resisted the Republican "wave." In fact, this was the only age demographic that Republicans did not win.  And although they maintain their allegiance to Democrats (even without President Obama on the ballot - an erroneous distinction made by many pundits when predicting young voter enthusiasm) many in the youth community feel that the youth vote opportunity was not maximized by either party.  According to  Smith,"Candidates in both parties failed to really engage young people in their races.  Republicans failed to attract increased numbers of young voters, and it could have been a very different outcome for Democrats had their candidates implemented the lessons from 2008's winning playbook."

What each party learns from these numbers will be a story to watch moving into 2012.