“In one of the more pleasant surprises of this presidential campaign, young Americans are voting in big numbers, contributing to some unexpected results so far,” according to an editorial in The New York Times.
“This is the first presidential campaign in which people age 18 to 29 make up the same proportion of the electorate as do baby boomers — about one-third. This year, the youth turnout for both parties in the primaries so far is rivaling 2008, the year of Barack Obama’s first campaign.
“These voters have always been tough to motivate. For years young people have been telling Mr. John Della Volpe, the director of polling at the Harvard Institute of Politics, that they’d like to take an active role in politics, but that few politicians have asked. This generation is heavily into volunteerism, the Harvard team found, with a big interest in ‘making the world a better place.’ In focus groups, ‘They want to do more than just vote,’ Mr. Della Volpe says. ‘They want to be part of a campaign. Sanders was the first one since Obama to tap into that.’
“Pat Cotham, a 65-year-old Democratic superdelegate from North Carolina, says this year’s engagement by young people reminds her of her own Vietnam-era college activism. ‘I remember feeling that people weren’t paying attention to us. But young people changed America and it can happen again.’
“Inspiring young voters is crucial for Democrats. People born after 1980 are more racially diverse and socially liberal than any other age group, a 2014 Pew study found, and in the Harvard poll in November 56 percent of voters age 18 to 29 said they want a Democrat in the White House, compared with 36 percent who would prefer a Republican. Yet 40 percent of those in this age group say they are politically independent.”
The full editorial is here.