Collegiate Voting Turnout in Philadelphia

Posted by on January 14, 2005

[posted from Committee of Seventy News You Can Use]

A Preliminary Report Card for the Class of 2004: Collegiate Voting in the Quaker City

According to reports based on results of the National Election Pool – an election day exit poll commissioned by major media outlets ? the number of young voters increased significantly compared to 2000 with an estimated of 4.6 million additional voters aged 18-29 going to the polls. However, increases in participation among those 30 and older meant that the share of the presidential vote contributed by young voters remained about the same as in 2000 ? many more individuals, but the same degree of relevance within the national electorate.

Given that Seventy participated in a number of high school and college voter engagement campaigns this year and many observers wondered whether young voters would show up for this election, we were curious to see the impact of GOTV efforts on college turnout in Philadelphia.

In accord with national statistics, collegiate turnout in Philadelphia has historically been abysmal, especially with regard to low interest elections. On this basis, we need to keep in mind that significant percentage gains in votes cast for President are the based on exceptionally low starting points and for instance a 100% increase for a campus division may represent fewer additional votes than a 10% increase for a division in one of Philadelphia?s best performing wards. In addition, it is much easier for a division to get from 40% to 50% turnout than it is to go from 65% to 70% as the closer you get to full participation, the harder it is to bring new bodies to the polls.

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