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Are Young Superdelegates Following Trends Of Young Voters? A Street Team '08 Report

Over at MTV I explore the question of young Superdelegates and if they are following the trends of the 2008 youth vote.

Read the full post here: www.chooseorlose.com

There is a lot of talk about young voter turnout and about Superdelegates these days. Young people have emerged as a critical bloc of voters. The media, candidates and many naysayers of the youth vote are finally giving them and the issues they care about attention on the campaign trail.

It got me thinking-are the young Superdelegates following the trends of young voters and how much has the youth vote increased this year?

I decided to take a look at all the primary and caucus states that have voted so far in order to get a good sense as to the young voter trends-increase in turnout, preference of candidate, preference of Party-and then compare that to the Superdelegates under 36 that have come out as "pledged" to a certain candidate.

Trends of Party Preference: The Shift to Democrats

Young people are overwhelmingly going for Democrats this election cycle, following a trend since 2000. Mike Connery, a blogger over at Future Majority, put together this nifty graphic that shows the growing Democratic advantage among young people.



As you can see, already in 2008, young people are voting 65% for Democrats and only 34% for Republicans (it's actually up to 68% now since a few more states have come in after Mike created this graph as you will see later in this post).

Democrats have a 31% vote advantage headed into the Presidential elections not to mention all the down ballot races for Senate, House of Representative, Mayor, etc. this will affect.

While this is great news for the Democrats, it is not so good news for Republicans. But--and a big but at that--Democrats should be forewarned. Republicans had the youth vote during the Reagan years. Almost 60% of the young people then voted for Republicans and continued to vote for Republicans as a bloc of voters.

However, Republicans stopped talking to future groups of young people and it shows now in their numbers. If Democrats want a lasting majority, they need to continue targeted programs at young people or risk losing a big chunk of the electorate in the future. While young people make up about 21% of the electorate now, they will be 30% of the electorate by 2012 and that is a bloc of voters that can very easily swing elections.

State by State Breakdown: Over 4 Million Strong and Growing

Across the board young people have increased their votes in almost every state except in NY there was no increase. The average number of young people voting in a state in 2004 was 46,373. The average in this election cycle is 174,646. That is more than tripling the number of votes cast for 18-29 year olds. This is remarkable since many youth voting experts could have predicted a 15-20% jump, but no one predicted a 200% plus jump.



Read the full post here: www.chooseorlose.com

Jane Fleming Kleeb is the Executive Director of the Young Voter PAC which helps Democratic candidates and State Parties win with the 18-35 year-old vote through endorsements, on-the-ground support, training, strategy and money. She is a regular on Fox and is part of MTV’s Street Team ‘08 representing Nebraska.

How MTV's Street Team is Changing Politics

Check out the full post at: think.mtv.com

This is the first piece in a year-long series about young people, voting and politics.

How MTV's Street Team is Changing Politics

Our generation is changing politics-who participates and who wins.

Normally around this time of the year we hear from pundits and reporters that young people don't vote, they're apathetic, just a group of elusive voters and anyone that tries to get them to vote or involved in politics might as well be chasing windmills.

Well, we actually know what gets young people to vote. You simply talk to them about issues they care about both where they live and where they hang out and they turn out to vote. Better yet, they also stay involved in their communities year round.

Increasingly, young people are hanging out online and obviously live in all 50 states including DC. So if you want more young people involved in politics, you are probably wondering what will work in 2008 to get a critical mass of young people to the polls. Just how can you get more than 20 million to turn out this time around? Welcome to MTV's Street Team ‘08.

Before the Now, First the Then (or lessons learned)
2004 was the first time we saw an increase in youth turnout in over a decade. The last time before that was 1992 when MTV's Choose or Lose program targeted politicians to get them on record about issues young people care about. Bill Clinton embraced MTV, wrapped himself in the MTV flag just like Madonna did in her famous ad on MTV in 1990, and the youth vote that year helped propel him to the White House.

Check out the full post (this is just a summary) at: think.mtv.com

What Happened with the NH Youth Vote?

We have plenty of theories this morning on how and why Clinton pulled out a win in the New Hampshire primary. I am happy to say the youth vote is not being blamed for Obama's loss and instead the Clinton campaign and even some pundits are saying it was because of the youth vote that she won.

Our first concern in the youth vote community was less about who won or lost, and more about how the surge in Iowa would be portrayed if Obama did not win. The conventional wisdom in 2004 was all young people were voting for Dean. That was not true, young voters were split between Kerry, Dean and Edwards. However, that didn't stop the media from blaming young people for Dean's loss. Additionally, when Kerry lost the general election, we spent the next four years explaining that young people did turn out beating a record high from 1992. In the end, it simply did not matter though, the media wrote the youth vote story and it was "young people are all hype, they say they will show up but don't."

Cynics and pundits are on message now. We did not hear many people last night blaming Obama's loss on young people and rather they were claiming it was young people who helped propel Clinton into victory. There may be something to that.

Obama has a wider youth campaign strategy and a broader youth movement happening right now which is why overall he has higher youth numbers. The Clinton campaign saw this and went after a group within the youth demographic they knew they could get-young professional women and working-class young people. Youth turnout overall jumped to 43% up from 18% in 2004.

Obama overwhelmingly got the 18-24 year old bloc (60% vs 22% for Clinton). The 18-29 year old bloc was split, with Clinton having a 2% advantage over Obama (37% Clinton, 35% Obama). If anything, the Clinton win gives the youth vote community an opportunity to tell the story that young people can and must be found on and off campus. Only about 25% of young people are in college, so if you want the youth vote you have to go where they live and where they hang out.

In last few days of the campaign, Clinton was able to appeal to working class young people with her message of Obama living in the clouds and she is working in the trenches. With this basic point, the Clinton campaign went after the 25-29 year old block.

We also can't overlook her moment of tears. Some will say it was contrived, but it seems women ages 25-29 looked at that as first time Clinton showed that politics is about passion, not just a job. Young women in this age group are working on their early careers, struggling with making it and probably have had moments like Clinton had in the coffee shop. They may have said to themselves "yeah, I know how that feels when you work your butt off, try your best and it doesn't seem to work out." So they gave her another shot with their votes.

The good news for young voters is both campaigns-and I would bet Edwards as well-are looking at how much they are investing in their youth programs. We will be watching how the candidates talk about young voters, talk to young voters and what their GOTV efforts look like in Nevada and South Carolina and leading into Super Tuesday.

Young voters now have to decide-are they "fired up" and "ready to go" or do they jump on the "experience" bus. At the very least, the campaigns will have to retool their youth programs to reach the youth communities in Nevada and South Carolina. South Carolina has a large African American population and Nevada has large Latino pollution two parts of the youth community that in 2004 voted in record numbers for Democrats. We are confident Democrats will win the youth vote, 80% of young people in Iowa and 61% in New Hampshire voted for Democrats. The only question we have is which Democrat will they go for?

Jane Fleming Kleeb is the Executive Director of the Young Voter PAC which helps Democratic candidates and State Parties win with the 18-35 year-old vote through endorsements, on-the-ground support, training, strategy and money. She is a regular on Fox and is part of MTV’s Street Team ‘08 representing Nebraska.

I Need a Hero

They say young people won't show up. They tell reporters young voters are just "icing on the cake." They remind candidates young people are the "elusive voter" who may come to rallies but can't be relied on to caucus. They even tell young voters to stay home because you are not "from" Iowa.

Some go on to say it's so difficult to get young people to the caucus that I might as well go searching for the Holy Grail instead. I have also been told I am chasing windmills by targeting young voters.

I ignore the naysayers and call young voters my heroes. I need you to do the same.

Young people showed up in 2004. They showed up in 2006. They will show up again on January 3rd, 2008 at caucus sites all over Iowa.

We know that if a candidate targets young people they will turnout. Young people are not any different than any other constituency group. You talk to us, we vote. You ignore us, we ignore you.

When the Young Voter PAC got word that the Iowa caucus date would be moved to when students were on winter break, we knew two things. One, we needed to help get students who may be away on break back to Iowa. Two, this would put a kink in the plans of Democratic candidates who have been targeting young people-those in school and those not in school-and that we couldn't let this stop the momentum in the campaigns of strong and historic young voter outreach.

What we didn't expect was candidates on "our team" telling young people that if they are not "from Iowa" that they should stay home. On some levels we knew why they were doing this, but no matter the political reason we knew it was wrong for Iowa and wrong for our nation to try and disenfranchise students.

We immediately wrote blog posts and press releases. We started a Facebook group to get the candidates to do the right thing by young voters and they did-all the major campaigns issued statements in support of students caucusing in Iowa. We decided we couldn't stop there.

We started a campaign telling young people to come back and caucus and asking those who are not eligible to caucus in Iowa to help support young voters by donating money to the cause.

Donors who support young voters stepped up. We bought a bunch of blog, Google and Facebook ads. We sent over 58,000 text messages and emails to registered Democrats, ages 18-35, in Iowa. We pulled together a corps of youth voting experts and young people caucusing to talk to reporters. We asked volunteers not eligible to caucus to come to Iowa so we can monitor some sites we know a lot of young people will show up at to make sure they don't get turned away at the door.

The requests for gas money and hotel rooms started to trickle in. At first the forms were a bit slow to come in, but as of today we are already up to over 150 young people coming back to caucus. The reasons for coming back to caucus are simply inspiring.

Never in my life have I felt like I have such a strong stake in the political process of America. I am an adamant supporter of my candidate and have never felt this strongly about a politician or candidate in my life. I see this election as being pivotal in American history, marking either the renewal of America in the eyes of the worlds or a continuing backward slide into ambiguity and a world of danger and fear.

Being a student at Grinnell gives me almost a once in a lifetime opportunity to be able to caucus in Iowa, and as Iowa usually sets the pace for the rest of the caucuses around the nation, I wouldn't want to miss it.

I want to play a role and have an influence on these elections. Being born in Argentina and recently receiving my U.S. citizenship, I want to take advantage of the opportunities I have been given. I don't want to regret not participating and then feel guilty that my preferred candidate was not elected.

All eyes are on Iowa. Which candidate will pull it out? What will a win mean for the rest of the primary schedule? Who will help pull the winner over the finish line?

I have a different question.

Why not be a hero?

Let's show them what we got. If you are eligible to caucus, come back. Be loud and stand proud at your caucus.

If you are watching this from another state and want to help out, donate today to the Young Voter PAC.

Whether you caucus or donate, know you are representing our generation, one that will change politics-who participates and who wins.

Students pay taxes and live in Iowa why shouldn't they caucus?

Jane Fleming Kleeb is the Executive Director of the Young Voter PAC which is dedicated to helping Democrats win with the youth vote. Through endorsements, funding, training and media support the Young Voter PAC changes the faces of elections…who participates and who wins.

In a series of unfortunate statements, the Clinton campaign took a stab at young people while attacking Barack Obama's effort to reach out to student voters. As reported in The Politico, a Clinton campaign official said "We are not courting out-of-staters. The Iowa caucus ought to be for Iowans."

Senator Clinton went on to say at a town hall in Clear Lake, Iowa: "This is a process for Iowans. This needs to be all about Iowa, and people who live here, people who pay taxes here."

The problem with this statement is the thinly veiled target of her comments, that is the tens of thousands of students studying at any of the dozens of colleges and universities throughout the state. Iowa has a sales tax therefore every student who goes to school in Iowa—and makes Iowa their home for an average of four years—pays taxes every day when they go to the store. Naturally, many students also work to support themselves and thus pay taxes there as well. Additionally, students pay tuition and consequently help support many of Iowa's public and private institutions. And none of this addresses the many young people who, after they graduate, continue to make Iowa their home.

This discussion raises an important question, if a person moved to Iowa for a new job and was only going to be there for few years, does that mean that they should not be allowed to participate in the state's political process? Few would argue that it would, why then tell students they should not?

The residents of Iowa passed tax credits to help young people stay put after college because, like many mid-western states, too many young people leave because of a perceived lack of opportunities. Having recruited talented young people to attend Iowa's high quality colleges, you can bet that the people of Iowa would like to see these young people stay and contribute to building the state's economy and its communities, and many do. Clearly the residents of Iowa take students seriously and want them involved in determining their state's future. Shouldn't candidates then as well?

Barack Obama shot back at Clinton in the press and at rallies. He told a group of Iowa State University students "…one of the things we've been hearing lately is, 'Well, maybe young people shouldn't caucus if they just recently moved here because they are going to school here.' Don't let people tell you that you can't participate. You are an Iowa student, you can be an Iowa caucus-goer, and I want you to prove them wrong when they say you're not gonna show up."

The Dodd campaign initially made a negative statement about students and caucus-going as well but later clarified their intention. They believe students should participate in the caucus but they are concerned given some of Sen. Obama's previous campaign tactics -- particularly, the alleged busing of people in to the Iowa Democratic Party's Annual Jefferson-Jackson Day Fundraiser to pack the house with supporters, many of whom were not Iowa residents -- and don't want to see Obama busing in students who don't go to school in Iowa.

Tactical debates aside, there is a long legacy of efforts to disenfranchise the student vote. From extra identification barriers for student populations to threatened legal action and tax penalties against students who register to vote on campus, this history is a struggle for a basic and fundamental right in our democracy -- the right to participate in the political destiny of our country. Thankfully, many of the attacks on such basic civil rights have been beaten back and our campuses, our young people and our democracy are better for it.

Senator Clinton's opposition to Iowa college students' voting simply because their parents may live out of state is out of step with the strong record Democrats have in standing up for voting rights and voter enfranchisement.

Youth vote leaders are proud of the Democratic campaigns who have dedicated staff people that are reaching out to not only students but also young people ages 18-35, a development which is vastly different than previous presidential cycles when campaigns essentially ignored the student and youth vote. However, we are deeply disappointed that the Clinton campaign is, in essence, arguing to disenfranchise the student vote. Young people reversed the trend of declining youth participation in 2004 and continued to show their impact at the polls in 2006 by helping elect Democrats such as Senator Jon Tester and Representative Joe Courtney.

Young people should never have been ignored by the political establishment but they were for many years. Now that some in political circles are waking up to the power of the youth vote, we hope all campaigns encourage young people to be involved in our democracy and in the selection of our next President. After all, young people will be 30% of the electorate in just a few years, ignoring them or saying they should stay home is at a candidate's -- and frankly, our country's -- peril.

UPDATE 12/5/2007 at 9:50pm: Hillary Clinton’s Communications Director Howard Wolfson just released this statement in response to this issue: “The Iowa caucus is so special because it is based on Iowa values. We believe that every Iowan and every student who is eligible to caucus in Iowa should do so and we hope they do."

How to Get 18-35 Year-Olds to Vote for Your Candidate

Jane Fleming Kleeb is the Executive Director of the Young Voter PAC which helps Democratic candidates and State Parties win with the 18-35 year-old vote through endorsements, on-the-ground support, training, strategy and money. She is a regular on Fox and MSNBC.

November 6th--Election Day 2007--is just around the corner for folks in many states. If you're reading this, you probably don't need to be convinced to target young people to vote in the upcoming elections. If you still need convincing, you might want to check out an article in the Politico that laid out some statistics.

The bottom line is if you target and talk to young people they will vote. Not rocket science, true enough. But with Election Day looming for many campaign staffers, volunteers and candidates, the Young Voter PAC thought we would offer up 5 activities that your campaign can do to get 18-35 year-olds to the polls. Don't fret if you have not started targeting young voters yet. You still have time since many young people, and yes even older voters, don't pay attention until right at the end.

Each idea below is linked to an organization that has done these activities many times and they should be looked to as a resource for more detailed information and sample materials. Don't reinvent the wheel, young voter groups like those below, are here as a resource.

  1. Go Trick or Voting. Get a bunch of volunteers and your candidate and head to neighborhood streets and community Halloween parties. Create signs saying "Don't Be Tricked By (insert other candidate's name), Vote (insert your candidate's name)" and have volunteers carry the signs. You can even make old-school sandwich boards for volunteers to wear. Get volunteers to dress up as famous Democrats or people that highlight progressive issues that the campaign has focused on during the election cycle (e.g. nurses and doctors to symbolize health care for all). Use this Halloween holiday as a creative time to reiterate your message, get some earned media and increase visibility.

  2. Create "Pledge to Vote" cards. Research (and common sense) tells us that if a young person "pledges" to vote they vote in higher numbers. Groups like YDA and the PIRGs have been using pledge cards for years and it works. Simply create the pledge to vote cards and arm your volunteers with clipboards. Create fun contest to have them compete with one another to get as many pledge cards in a few hours. Use the information on the pledge cards (make sure you get name, email, cell, address) to contact young voters before and on Election Day.

  3. Do a bar crawl. You can also choose to do a coffee house crawl, an elementary school crawl, a supermarket crawl....you get the point. Any place where 18-35 year-olds hang out in your targeted areas is where you want to send the candidate and a group of energetic volunteers. Make sure you all wear campaign t-shirts and bring quarter-sheet sized information flyers about your candidate. When you go to places where young people hang out, they don't want to lug around a big pamphlet, so all you need to do is use some text from existing lit, give it a younger spin and create it so there are 4 flyers per page. Make sure the info sheets on your candidate have the date of the election, where someone can find their polling location and the number to call if they face problems voting. You can even bring "Pledge to Vote" cards to the bar crawl to make the crawl more effective since this way you will have contact information of the young voters you talked to for GOTV.

  4. Make a Voter Guide. We all get busy and can't keep up with the candidates and ballot initiatives that are happening on Election Day. Make it easy for young voters and create a voter guide that lists who/what to vote for and why. Leave the voter guides at places like coffee shops, college cafeterias and people's door steps. You can also hand them out as people are headed home from work and school in heavy trafficked areas like bus stops, metro centers, schools and supermarkets.

  5. Throw a Party at the Polls. Why not make polling locations fun. Bring food, music, signs, candidate lit, balloons, just about anything to make it fun and welcoming. We forget that voting can at times be intimidating. Placing volunteers at polls, especially those that are populated with a lot of young people, and making the atmosphere fun can increase the likelihood of a young voter stopping and going in to vote.

Above all else, keep young people on your GOTV call and walk list.

Resources get tight in the last days of an election, but the biggest mistake your campaign will make is to cut young people from your GOTV lists. Campaigns usually cut young voters because they have no vote history or they don't have the frequency of voting as older voters. Think in terms of a young voter-this may be their first eligible election so of course they have no vote history...yet! Go against the grain and leave young voters on your lists.

When trying to get young people to the polls, you must throw out the conventional wisdom of "young people don't vote." Young people don't vote at the same rate as older voters because they are not targeted. Talk to young voters and they will vote. Having other young people and the candidate do the asking and information giving is even better. Don't attempt to do all of the above in the last week of the election, but at least try one of the activities. Your volunteers and fellow staffers will get a refreshing break from other campaign activities and your candidate just might win because of the youth vote in the process.

Want More?

In addition to the organizations linked to above, check out the Pink Bunnies project by Forward Montana and creative ads by New Era Colorado. Both are innovative state-based organizations targeting young voters.

For links to research and case studies visit www.youngvoterpac.org or go right to www.rockthevote.com/research/ and download "Young Voter Mobilization Tactics I and II." All of the guides on Rock the Vote's site highlight best practices and research by respected young voter researchers and pollsters including Celinda Lake, David Nickerson, Donald Green and Alan Gerber.

Campaigns Must Do More Than Use MySpace and MTV to Capture Young Voters

Jane Fleming Kleeb is the Executive Director of the Young Voter Pac which helps Democratic candidates and State Parties win with the 18-35 year old vote through endorsements, on-the-ground support, training, strategy and money.

The 2008 Presidential cycle is here and candidates are increasingly competing for the youth vote. Rightfully so, young people voted in record numbers in the 2004 and 2006 elections and all signs point to 2008 being even bigger for the youth vote. It is not just hype or hope that young voters can swing an election; young people have proved they are voting at higher numbers and are now voting overwhelmingly for Democrats.

The question is what is it going to take to continue to get young people to the polls?

Recently, MTV and MySpace launched a new type of online discussion with candidates which will in theory reach young people in order to get them motivated to vote. Edwards is up first and his campaign thus far is doing exactly what they need to in order to capture the youth vote. They have a separate website for young voters, created an action arm with their One America and even John Edwards himself is on message when it comes to young voters when he said today "You hear all the time from political pundits that young people don’t care about politics – but it’s a lie. Young people all over the country care about America and are engaged in bringing change to their communities."

Too many campaigns get sidetracked and think there is a magic tactic or umbrella issue for capturing the youth vote. Right now that magic tactic seems to be new media tools including Facebook, MySpace, blog posts, text messages and online debates. None of these new media tools alone will get young people to the polls. Rather, what it takes to secure the youth vote is, interestingly enough, to treat them as serious constituents and target them as voters. It is not who is the most hip with the coolest MySpace page.

Young people are a sophisticated voting bloc and we now have the experience, research and best practices to know what works to turn them out to the polls. Most encouraging for Democratic campaigns, young people are now voting in record numbers, and favoring Democratic candidates by wide margins. In 2004, for example, young people preferred Democrats by a 10% point margin; by 2006 that margin had grown to an impressive 22% points.

Even better news, young people are not only voting for Democrats, for the first time in several years they are also identifying as Democrats. Just a few years ago, young people were split evenly among Democrats, Republicans and Independents. Now, 43% of young people as saying they are Democrats, only 31% Republican and a shrinking 26% of young people are saying they are Independents.

Now, while it is true that young people, ages 18-35, do not yet vote at the same levels as older voters, we have found that it is not because they are lazy or apathetic. The real reason is much simpler—for years, most campaigns have ignored them as voters and in turn young people ignored voting. Instead, most young people turned to community service as a way to be involved in their communities and nation. The voting booth was simply not seen as a place to effect change and campaigns were not doing anything to change that mindset.

As with any constituency group, campaigns must contact young people at their doors and where they hangout if they want to engage them as voters. Campaigns should continue to use new media approaches such as participating in the MTV online dialogue. However, research and recent history both tell us that these tools alone will not actually get young people to the polls. Such techniques may excite or inform them about a given candidate but they will not, by themselves, secure the youth voting bloc necessary to win unless campaigns also engage them personally at their homes and hangouts.

In 2006 some successful youth voting outreach examples included Representative Patrick Murphy of Pennsylvania, Representative Harry Mitchell of Arizona and Senator John Tester of Montana. These campaigns had field plans that included young people, utilized new media outreach to broadcast their message, and partnered with youth groups who had experience in turning out young voters. And, as those campaigns testify, that increased voter turnout among young people was the margin in their victories.

While capturing the youth vote is not easy, it is doable if candidates target young voters, listen to them, talk with them about issues they care about and treat them like any other constituency group they are trying to secure in order to help them win. When campaigns do this, when they treat young people as voters in messaging and outreach both, young people reward their effort with their time, money and votes.

This is cross posted at http://www.youngvoterpac.org/blog/

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