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Young People: They’re registered, but will they vote?

Recent registration efforts have mobilized young people in an unprecedented fashion. According to the recent Ipsos/GENEXT Presidential Poll ( released this week, nearly one in three registered voters under 30 have registered to vote within the past six months. The registration efforts seem to have had the most impact on 18 to 21 year olds, women with no more than a high-school education, unmarried parents, and those who still live with their parents. Young voters are also more likely to be contacted by non-partisan organizations (like Rock the Vote or the Center for Politics) than by political parties.

With numbers similarly reflecting the attitudes of their older counterparts, young voters remain critical of Bush’s job performance, with more than half voicing their disapproval. In general, most young people do not have well defined loyalty to a particular political party; yet, the Ipsos poll shows that the young people who consider themselves likely to vote favor Kerry (52 percent) over Bush (42 percent).

Is this the year that young voters show up to vote and determine the outcome of the election? Is polling skewed because pollsters aren’t taking into account the huge upswing in voter registration among young people? Maybe, but there are plenty of reasons to remain cautious. Registering to vote and actually voting are two different things. It is fairly safe to say that we can expect higher turnout across the board in this election. We remain very interested in whether or not the increase among our youngest voters will outpace heightened participation among the older generations on Election Day.