CIRCLE to Release Exclusive Turnout Estimate Tomorrow

Medford/Somerville, Mass. –  Young people (ages 18-29) represented 19% of the voters in today’s election, with President Obama winning the majority of those votes over Governor Romney by 60% to 36%, according to the early released National Exit Poll (NEP) conducted by Edison Research. This is one point higher than in 2008, when young voters represented 18 percent of voters in the presidential election, according to the NEP. (Note that Early National Exit Poll data are subject to reweighting.)

Tomorrow, the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) – the preeminent youth researchers at Tufts University – will be releasing an exclusive youth turnout estimate for the 2012 election. Turnout is the only statistic reflecting either an increase or decrease in youth voting this election.  CIRCLE’s exclusive youth turnout number and further analysis will be discussed during a national press conference call being held by CIRCLE and Rock the Vote tomorrow (Wednesday) at 12noon (ET).  To reserve a line on the call please RSVP to [email protected]

“The role young people would play during this election has been a major question in American politics for over a year, and it seems the answer is that they have been as big a force at the polls in 2012 as in 2008,” said CIRCLE Director Peter Levine. “They again supported President Obama, although not as lopsidedly as in 2008. Until tomorrow, it will be unclear whether youth turnout–or the turnout of any group–rose or fell, but young people were proportionately well represented in the 2012 electorate.”

The 19% share does not indicate how many young people voted or whether there was a rise in youth turnout. In 2004, the youth share of the vote remained constant even though youth turnout rose.  Young people represent about 21% of the voting-eligible population, according to CIRCLE’s analysis of Census data.

The youth share (percentage of voters who are young) has stayed steady since 1996 as more people of every age have voted.  Youth turnout, on the other hand, has grown consistently, with half of all 18-29 year olds voting in the 2008 election. See data table here:

Young voters preferred Obama over Romney by 60% to 36% in the National Exit Polls. That represented a somewhat narrower margin than in the 2008 election, in which Obama took 66% of young voters. Before 2008, in elections from 1976 through 2004, young voters diverged by an average of only about 2 percentage points from the popular vote as a whole. See data table here:

Further analysis of the youth vote choice from the National Exit Polls provided by CIRCLE, includes:

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CIRCLE ( is a nonpartisan, independent, academic research center that studies young people in politics and presents detailed data on young voters in all 50 states. CIRCLE was founded in 2001 with a generous gift from the Pew Charitable Trusts and is part of the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service at Tufts University. CIRCLE’s reputation for reliable, independent, timely research has been hailed by experts in the field of civic partnership, such as Harvard University professor Robert Putnam who said CIRCLE has brought “the best and most serious research to one place.”

The Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service ( is a national leader whose model and research are setting the standard for higher education’s role in civic engagement education. Serving every school of Tufts University, Tisch College creates an enduring culture that prepares students to be lifelong active citizens.

Tufts University ( located on three Massachusetts campuses in Boston, Medford/Somerville and Grafton, and in Talloires, France, is recognized as one of the premier research universities in the United States. Tufts enjoys a global reputation for academic excellence and for the preparation of students as leaders in a wide range of professions. A growing number of innovative teaching and research initiatives span all Tufts campuses, and collaboration among the faculty and students in the undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs across the university’s schools is widely encouraged.

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