Although this Election Day brought out registered voters in record numbers, young voter turnout was less than expected.
About 70 percent of registered voters went to the polls Tuesday, compared to 63 percent in 2000, when President George W. Bush beat Al Gore by 3.5 percentage points. Tuesday’s margin was 2 points. However, the 17 percent of young voters who voted in 2000 did not increase in this election., according to the Associated Press.
Despite high-profile efforts such as MTV’s Rock the Vote and Vote or Die by P.Diddy, young voters did not make it out to the polls like anticipated.
“The celebrity angle did not help the Democrats,” said USF political science professor Susan MacManus. “Instead it motivated more conservative voters, more than liberal young voters.”
MacManus said she thinks conservative turnout was higher as a response to the perceived lack of morality among celebrities.
“The high profile for celebrities had an unintended outcome that prompted Republicans to vote,” MacManus said.
USF political science professor Kiki Caruson said she was not surprised with the low turnout of young voters.
“New, younger voters are very hard to predict,” Caruson said. “Younger voters tend to turn out less than older voters; that’s a fact.”
Caruson said politicians usually don’t target young voters because they are not reliable and she added that they have proven that in this election. But the fact that candidates don’t reachout to the younger generation may reinforce its lack of interest in politics.
That may or may not be true. USF student James Marquat said he did not vote simply because he didn’t feel like waiting in line.
Freshman Bri Hudson, who went to vote at the Phyllis P. Marshall Center, shares Marquat’s sentiment.
“I didn’t vote because the line was about three to four hours long,” Hudson said.
Hudson said she was afraid that students were being set up not to vote because she could not understand how anyone would wait that long.
“A lot of people left who could have voted,” she said. “I feel bad about it.”
Hudson said she tried to vote somewhere else, only to be disappointed because she was not aware she could not vote in a different precinct. This would have been Hudson’s first time voting.
MacManus said she thinks the majority of young people who did vote were college students. Although the turnout was low among that group, she said the young voters she spoke to on campus were involved in this election.
According to a Mercury News interview with Melanie Blumberg, a professor of history and political science at California (Pa.) University and a Youngstown resident, outside groups were good at registering voters but may have had problems getting them to the polls.
Blumberg added that the outside groups fell short in the areas of last-minute voter contact and transportation to the polls.
“What I’m understanding is that they did not mobilize the number of people that they had hoped to,” Blumberg said in the interview.