Monday, February 25, 2008

Rock the Vote: Youth Voters Empowered for Change

Just this morning (2/25), Rock the Vote released their latest poll of 18-29 year olds -- better known to pundits and bloggers this political season as the youth vote. This is the first poll of these critical voters since Super Tuesday, and it reveals an energized voting block that is increasingly aware of its power to change the course of the election -- and the country. Coming on the heels of an unprecedented uptick in youth voter turnout, the poll results are as interesting as they are encouraging -- for the Democrats, that is.

Key findings from Rock the Vote's poll include:

  • Conversations with friends (60%), online videos (34%) and campaign websites (24%) topped the list as resources young people use to obtain information about presidential candidates and the election.

  • The top concerns for under-30 voters include jobs and the economy (17%), the war in Iraq (12%), health care (11%), and college affordability (10%).

  • When it comes to economic issues, a lack of jobs that pay decent wages (20%), rising health care costs (16%), and expenses like childcare and college tuition (10%) were cited as the most important issues.

  • On the war in Iraq, youth voters were somewhat divided: 36% of young people are ready to bring the troops home, 33% feel we should withdraw some troops, and 20% believe we should keep the number of troops as it is now.

  • The poll affirmed what anyone with a pulse already knows about this election: young people are passionate and engaged: 80% say they are likely to vote in November and 69% are excited to vote this fall.

  • When asked about party affiliation, young voters considered themselves Democrats (47%), Republicans (28%) and Independents (16%).

  • Fueling the calls for change, 68% believe the country is on the wrong track.

  • An overwhelming majority (89%) believe they have the power to change our country and 75% believe young people are making more of a difference than usual this election season.

AND (drum roll, please...)

  • When asked which candidate they would send to the White House if the presidential election were held today, young voters favored Hillary Clinton (47%) over John McCain (35%), and Barack Obama (57%) over John McCain (27%). Clearly Obama is pulling in some of those independents, but Hillary beats McCain among this age group, too.
Needless to say, given the primary"youthquake" that portends off-the-charts youth voter turnout in the general election, these figures spell even more bad news for the Grand Old Party. But, the results say great things for democracy. You see, voting can be habit-forming -- start voting young, and you'll keep on voting. And teach your kids to vote. And they'll tell two friends. And so on. And so on. And it's about time, or so says Heather Smith, Rock the Vote's executive director:

"The country is finally witnessing what Rock the Vote has known since 2004 -- young voters are key in shaping the political landscape of our country. They are showing up at the polls, getting their friends to vote, and volunteering for campaigns in record numbers. Today's young adults are demanding action in our country and making known they are an invaluable group for candidates to win the election in November."

'nuf said.

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