In 2012 No Party Can Take “All Young Voters” for Granted: Black Youth Project Study Reveals

Study Casts Doubt on Idea that All Youth Consistently Support the Democratic Party

For Immediate Release: Chicago, IL, May 2, 2012

New data analysis on Youth, Race, and Partisanship at

http://research.blackyouthproject.com/black-youth-and-the-future-of-american-politics/

“Obama’s success in the fall among young voters depends on how well he executes a two-pronged campaign.
Black youth must again be mobilized to turn out to vote and Obama must again appeal to the concerns of young Latinos and whites.”
--Jon Rogowski, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Political Science, University of Chicago

All candidates in 2012, including President Obama, will need to re-engage and continue to mobilize youth if they want their vote—nothing can be taken for granted.”
--Cathy Cohen, Professor of Political Science, University of Chicago and Founder/Director of the Black Youth Project

WHAT:  A new analysis shows that while young voters are often believed to be overwhelmingly Democratic, partisanship and vote choice vary considerably across racial groups. These patterns have significant implications for how campaign and community organizations mobilize support and turnout among young voters in upcoming elections.

Key statistics noted in this fourth report of the series entitled Democracy Remixed: Black Youth and the Future of American Politics released by the Black Youth Project of the University of Chicago include:

  • While more than 80% of black youth identified themselves as Democrats in 2008, the percentage is much lower for white and Latino youth. Fewer than 50% of white youth call themselves Democrats with Latino youth slightly higher.
  • Historically white youth have split their votes fairly evenly between Democrat and Republican candidates, a consistent pattern since 1980.
  • Black youth with higher levels of education voted for Obama in 2008 at lower rates than black youth with lower levels of education. Similar results are found for Latino youth. However, the pattern is reversed among white youth, for whom greater education is associated with higher levels of support for Obama.
  • The size of the gender gap varies considerably by race. The gender gap is smallest among blacks: virtually all young black men and women voted for Obama in 2008. However, there is a 17-point disparity in vote choice among men and women for Latinos and whites. Just over half (54%) of young white women voted for Obama in 2008, compared with 37 percent of young white men. Among Latinos, 84 percent of young women and 67 percent of young men voted for Obama.
  • Obama increased his support in 2008 among Latino youth by about 20 percentage points over Kerry’s level of support from Latino youth in 2004, while white youth increased their Democratic support a bit and black youth continued to grant near-unanimous support for the Democratic presidential candidate.

WHY:  Partisanship is one of the most stable features of American politics. Indeed, most Americans tend to stick with one party for most of their adult lives. However, the analysis in this report shows there is considerable variation in partisanship and vote choice across racial groups in young people. Contrary to conventional wisdom, youth are not a consistent voting bloc per se, with race, education, income, and gender all serving as important sources of variation in youth voting patterns.

In 2008, the Obama campaign benefited primarily from the mobilization of young black voters and from significantly increasing Democratic support from Latino youth. White youth also voted for Obama at higher rates in 2008 than they did for John Kerry in 2004, though this increase was more modest. Thus, the key for Obama and for Democratic congressional candidates will be to maintain or increase their support among young whites and Latinos, and continue to mobilize black youth.

WHEN:  The study is being released online today, May 2, 2012

WHERE: The full analysis can be found at http://research.blackyouthproject.com/black-youth-and-the-future-of-american-politics/

Geoffrey Knox: 212-229-0540 or gknox@geoffreyknox.com

Roberta Sklar: 917-704-6358 or rsklar@geoffreyknox.com

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Quick facts

While more than 80% of black youth identified themselves as Democrats in 2008, the percentage is much lower for white and Latino youth. Fewer than 50% of white youth call themselves Democrats with Latino youth slightly higher. Historically white youth have split their votes fairly evenly between Democrat and Republican candidates, a consistent pattern since 1980. Black youth with higher levels of education voted for Obama in 2008 at lower rates than black youth with lower levels of education. Similar results are found for Latino youth. However, the pattern is reversed among white youth, for whom greater education is associated with higher levels of support for Obama. The size of the gender gap varies considerably by race. The gender gap is smallest among blacks: virtually all young black men and women voted for Obama in 2008. However, there is a 17-point disparity in vote choice among men and women for Latinos and whites. Just over half (54%) of young white women voted for Obama in 2008, compared with 37 percent of young white men. Among Latinos, 84 percent of young women and 67 percent of young men voted for Obama. Obama increased his support in 2008 among Latino youth by about 20 percentage points over Kerry’s level of support from Latino youth in 2004, while white youth increased their Democratic support a bit and black youth continued to grant near-unanimous support for the Democratic presidential candidate.
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Quotes

“Obama’s success in the fall among young voters depends on how well he executes a two-pronged campaign. Black youth must again be mobilized to turn out to vote and Obama must again appeal to the concerns of young Latinos and whites.”
Jon Rogowski, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Political Science, University of Chicago
“All candidates in 2012, including President Obama, will need to re-engage and continue to mobilize youth if they want their vote—nothing can be taken for granted.”
Cathy Cohen, Professor of Political Science, University of Chicago and Founder/Director of the Black Youth Project