Zachary A. Goldfarb has a WaPo update on the battle for the youth vote in the mid-terms and ’08, which should be of interest to Dem campaign staffers and strategists. According to Goldfarb, Dems can be cautiously optimistic about younger voters. First, with respect to turnout:
In 2004, young people voted in the highest percentage they had since 1992, and in the third-highest percentage in the nine presidential elections since a constitutional amendment in 1971 lowered the voting age to 18…in the 2004 presidential election, when the overall electorate showed a four-percentage-point increase in turnout from 2000, the turnout rate among people ages 18 to 24 increased by 11 points — to 47 percent from 36 percent. In 2005, overall voter turnout declined in the gubernatorial races in New Jersey and Virginia, except for the student-dense precincts with big voter turnout projects.
Goldfarb’s article highlights the efforts of a new organization, Youth Voter Strategies and cites an encouraging trend for Dems:
…Recently, the group has been showcasing the results of a poll on young voters done with prominent pollsters Ed Goeas, a Republican, and Celinda Lake, a Democrat. The poll found that young people believe Democrats are better equipped to handle their top concerns — gas prices, education and the economy — by a wide margin.
Democrats are emphasizing college affordability as a hot button issue with young voters, according to Goldfarb. He also offers an interesting clue for longer-range Democratic strategy from pollster Lake.
Lake said she has told Democrats they have “a major opportunity” to nurture the future of the party. “The long-term studies show that if you capture a cohort in their youth three times in a row, then you hold their party identification for the rest of their life,” she said.
But, as Goldfarb’s article points out, it’s not all about text messaging, cell phone and internet chatter, and stresses the importance of “peer-to-peer efforts in the offline world” and good, old-fashioned Election Day reminders.