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They came out in droves on Tuesday, an estimated 24 million of them in fact. Voters ages 18 to 29 increased their turnout over the last presidential election by a projected 2.2 million, according to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement.
Polls indicate 49% to 54% of the total age group voted during this year’s presidential race.
President-elect Barack Obama’s grassroots campaign and appeal to young voters paid off royally as they were a driving force to his victories in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and other battleground states. College towns in these states saw increases of up to 92% in youth voter turnout compared to 2004.
The 18 to 20-somethings supported the Obama-Biden ticket over McCain-Palin 66% to 32%, the highest share of the youth vote obtained by any candidate since exit polls began reporting results by age in 1976.
Further cementing their power as a viable voting block, young people represented 18% of the electorate. And for the first time, young voters surpassed those age 65 and older who made up 16% of the electorate.
Poll watchers were expecting young people to turnout in record numbers. But there was still an underlying doubt that they’d do what they do best and flake out.
“The millennial youth are centrist,” says Eric Greenberg author of Generation We: How Millennial Youth are Changing America and our World Forever. “They care more about the greater good,” he adds. Greenberg predicts both parties will take giant leaps towards the center in the years to come in order to court the growing demographic. “If you combine the youth vote with the African American vote, that’s what propelled Obama,” Greenberg says.
The survey results are based on national exit polls, demographic data, and projections of total numbers of votes cast.
Renita Burns is the editorial assistant at BlackEnterprise.com