Millennials Behind the Obama Surge

If people still need evidence of the political impact of the young Millennial Generation on politics, look closely at the detailed results now coming out of Iowa. You could argue that Obama owes the thrust of his surge to the energized vote of Millennials.

Here are some initial statistics for youth (ages 18-29) turnout in Iowa, which come courtesy of the Young Voter PAC, and based on numbers coming out of CIRCLE, the Center for Information & research on Civic Learning & Engagement:

  • Young people made up 22% of the Democratic caucus goers, up from 17% in 2004. Young Democrats outnumbered young Republicans 4 to 1.
  • A total of 65,230 young people were caucus-goers in 2008. 52,580 caucused with Democrats and only 12,650 turned out for Republicans. That means of the young people that turned out, 80% were for Democrats.
  • The youth turnout rate tripled in Iowa. The youth turnout rate rose to 13% in 2008 compared to 4% in 2004 and 3% in 2000.
  • Out of all of Barack Obama‚Äôs support in Iowa, 57% came from young voters (CNN, MSNBC, FOX).
  • 60% of the caucus participants were first time caucus goers and of those 39% of them went for Obama.

The stats are even more remarkable because students are still on holidays in all the colleges around the state. And Iowa itself is demographically much older than many other states.

The New Politics Institute and NDN have been heralding this generation shift for the last couple years and teasing out the argument in various bits of information that would appear. The evidence has shown that this generation of young people, aged 29-11, are very engaged in politics, unusually civic-minded, hold progressive values and are voting for Democrats in high numbers. (Simon posted earlier on the various reports we have done on this subject.)

The Obama campaign recognizes this, and Obama himself has tapped into the energized idealism and optimism that this generation holds. Watch as this Millennial momentum just keeps growing through the primary season and onto the general election. This is a shift that will have a long tail of impact for many years to come. Political people who recognize it, and tap into it, will thrive. If you ignore it, like the Clinton campaign seemed to do, and you will get hurt.

Peter Leyden
Director of the New Politics Institute