The Youth Vote Remains Essential for Midterms

The midterms are winding down–complete with a Rally to Restore Fear/Sanity in 24 hours–but at least one constant remains: the youth vote.

If not proved by the insane turnout at the Daily Show’s taping on Wednesday at the Harman Center in DC, maybe the Beltway Gang’s other favorite staple can prove it: polls! Over at DCI, Dan Meyers contemplates a recent Rock The Vote poll:

Let’s look at previous midterm elections and voters that were 18-24 years old.  In 1998 turnout among them was 18.5%.  In 2002 it dropped to about 17.2%.  And in 2006 it rose to 19.9% — up almost 3% points.  Participation is higher, as it is in most segments, in presidential election years.  In 2000, 36.1% turned out.  2004 came in at 41.9% and most recently, in 2008, a spike to 44.3%.  2008 was the highest turnout among 18-24 year old voters since 1972 – the Nixon landslide – with turnout at 48.3%.

This year’s estimate: 77 percent. Meyers goes on to couple this with emerging media trends in social networking and communities developed through meet-up culture, which encourages people to not simply say they’ll vote but make sure they will. The social check-in app Foursquare has created a new badge–“I Voted”–for election day so users can show off via Twitter or Facebook that they’ve checked into an election location and voted.

If the “youth vote” remains on a steady rise, then it almost becomes proof positive that voters will keep it up as they enter their next polling place demographics of “home owner,” “married” and “employed.”