Young voters overwhelmingly favored Biden, analysis finds

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Dive Brief:

  • Voters under age 30 overwhelmingly supported Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential contest, according to data analyzed by the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University.

  • The center’s estimates released Wednesday and based on polling data show young voters favored the former vice president by a large margin. Some 61% said they voted for Biden, compared to 36% who picked President Donald Trump.

  • The share of young voters remained about the same from the 2016 presidential election, early data suggests, though turnout was up for the entire electorate. 

Dive Insight:

Previous research showed a surge in college student voting from the 2014 to the 2018 midterm elections, exciting civic engagement activists as turnout is usually down during nonpresidential elections. Experts said then that young voters would likely play a bigger role in determining the president this year.

CIRCLE’s report is based on polling data from The Associated Press.

Aggregate youth voter turnout in 11 battleground states this year ranged between 47% and 49% as of early Wednesday afternoon, the center reported, “meaning that nearly half of all eligible young people cast ballots in the most critical election races in the country,” it said in a statement. This is up about five percentage points from the 2016 elections, CIRCLE noted.

CIRCLE illustrates how the youth vote affected key races. Take Georgia, where Biden and Trump were separated by a razor-thin vote margin as of early Thursday afternoon. Young people made up more than a fifth of the state’s voters, and they favored Biden by a wider spread: 55% to 41%.

Nationwide, young voters of all races preferred Biden to Trump, though the differences were especially stark among Black, Asian and Latino voters

Eighty-six percent of young Black people voted for Biden, compared to 10% who went with Trump. Asian and Latino voters under age 30 also supported Biden by big margins. 

Young White voters picked Biden over Trump but by a much smaller margin — 51% for Biden versus 45% for Trump. Young White men, however, were more likely to pick Trump (51%) over Biden (45%).

Tufts’ analysis does not differentiate college students. And a significant share of college students are over the age of 30, meaning CIRCLE’s data doesn’t capture all of those enrolled right now.

The pandemic has also complicated voting for some college students, who are away from campuses where they would have otherwise voted. Youth votes are expected to have major influence on certain races this year, as the center outlines.

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