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Feature Story: Young voters turned out this week in New York

Apr 22, 2016 12:03 am
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Andrea Sears reports from New York News Connection for Public News Service that exit polling shows young people turned out in big numbers for the New York primary election this year.

CIRCLE, an independent, nonpartisan research center at Tufts University, found that across the state, the turnout of young voters was higher than in previous presidential primaries, making up a record breaking 18 percent of all voters.

Abby Kiesa, youth coordinator at CIRCLE, says youth participation has been increasing across the nation this year, especially in Republican primaries.

"However, in New York, there was a very large jump in participation in the Democratic primary over and beyond the 2008 high, which was a very high bar," she points out.

Young voters were 10 percent of those casting ballots in the New York Republican primary, which did not mark an increase.

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont has had strong support among younger voters nationwide, and that was true in New York as well.

But according to Kiesa, there was a sharp divide, with 81 percent of 18 to 24-year-olds supporting Sanders, but only 53 percent of those 25 to 29 backing him, while a majority of those 30 and older favored Hillary Clinton.

"And so it's very interesting to see within one state this difference among young people," she states. "So it's clear that Secretary Clinton had a good amount of support among young people in New York."

The sample rate for young voters in the New York Republican primary was too small to get a reliable estimate of how their votes were divided among the candidates.

Kiesa notes that young voters gave President Barack Obama the margin of victory in some key states in 2012. And this year records are being set for participation of voters up to 29 years old in almost every state, making young voters a force candidates need to consider.

"It really is important to reach out to young people because they care and can absolutely have an impact on the outcome of federal races and especially local races," Kiesa stresses.