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Rock the Vote, Part VIII

The one thing missing this year from the flood of old wives' tales, conventional ill wisdom, and urban legends that are spread every election has been the contention that the "young vote" will suddenly make the difference.

You know it - you see it EVERY election. Yet, EVERY election, when the votes are counted, the "youth vote" just didn't show up in numbers any higher than usual, which are terrible. Young people don't vote. Mercifully, though, this year we had been spared the usual spate of articles claiming "this could be the year!"

At least, until now. Jason Szep of Reuters falls for the old trap:


Students at University of Tennessee earn a free hot dog when they register to vote, while Montana's students plan a "dorm storm" to rouse classmates from the dormitories to the ballot box on Election Day.


As Republicans fight to keep control of Congress, both parties hope to mobilize young voters who turned out in record numbers in the 2004 presidential election and who some say could tilt Tuesday's congressional races toward the Democrats.

A Harvard poll released on Wednesday shows 32 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds "definitely" plan to vote next week. That would mark the highest youth turnout for a midterm election since 18-year-old Americans were first able to vote.


Read the rest of Jason's humiliation at the link above. Yeah, pal, just because 32% of young voters SAY they will vote doesn't mean beans. They ALWAYS say that. Then they don't show up. They never have, and probably never will, but they most certainly will not this year in any significantly higher rate than in the past. Go ahead, give 'em hot dogs and tee shirts, like it will make a difference!

"Rock the Vote" just sinks like a stone. Again.

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Comments (4)

Jim,Although I agr... (Below threshold)
Charles:

Jim,

Although I agree natinally that the young vote has been pathetic, in local races it can make a difference. Jesse Ventura won in large part due to the work of young voters.

In Montana, the campuses (especially U of M) are very liberal and Tester will grab many votes from them. In Missoula at the U, there are around 14,000 votes to be had (rough guess) and it will probably break 70-30 for Tester. It could easily decide the election. In addition, Tester is fairly popular in Bozeman (MSU) and if he gets a lot of votes there it will probably be too much for Conrad to make up the difference.

I am scoring the race Tester 52 / Burns 46 / Other 2 right now.

Charles

Charles ~ We really appreci... (Below threshold)

Charles ~ We really appreciate the input from readers in the various states and districts. You provide a view "from the ground" we can't get otherwise, so thanks.

You are quite correct that Montana youth, particularly those on the campuses, might very well vote in sufficient numbers to make a difference.

I can only view it from the history nationally, though. College students will attend rallies and marches - especially those serving refreshments - because they are social events. The actual election coincides closely with many midterm exams, though, and tends to be ignored.

Charles, that 14,000 figure... (Below threshold)
Steve_in_Corona:

Charles, that 14,000 figure you cite is the TOTAL enrollment of the student body on campus. So instead of 32% turnout (which would be the record the post mentioned) I'll give you 50%.

And I will give you the same 70/30 split in motivation that you claim. You are talking an extra couple thousand for Tester. Obviously, every vote counts, I know.

However, if the turnout is 32% (again - a record) and lets say the young college Republican crowd is more motivated to vote than the the liberal crowd that makes so much noise and does so little (in past elections) - then this is a non-factor.

Steve --Ugh! Actu... (Below threshold)
Charles:

Steve --

Ugh! Actually based on this:
http://www.civicyouth.org/PopUps/FactSheets/FS_FastFacts2006/montana_final.pdf
I think you may be right. Montana historically has a good turnout, but it appears that the younger voters on off years are not voting. There has been a large drop-off in the past 10 years.

I still stand by the 70/30 but you are right that it probably won't amount to much.

This is the first year that Montana is allowing people to register on election day. We'll have to see if it causes any differences in turnout.

Charles




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