TUFTS UNIVERSITY, MEDFORD/SOMERVILE, MA -- Analysis of young New Hampshire primary voters released recently by the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) shows that young Republican primary voters (18-29) are a highly engaged part of the electorate and could possibly play a deciding role in Tuesday's primary.
In every general election since 1998, the turnout percentage for young New Hampshire voters has been higher than the national average. In the 2008 New Hampshire primary, an historic 43 percent of young voters in the Granite State turned out to cast a vote for either the Republican or Democratic candidates, according to CIRCLE, a leading nonpartisan, academic research center at Tufts University that studies young people in politics.
"Historically, young voters in New Hampshire turn out to vote at a rate that is on par with older voters in the state, which puts their engagement in elections above the national average for youth in every general election since 1998," said Peter Levine, director of CIRCLE. "In the 2008 primary, New Hampshire young people turned out at a rate double that of 2004 and undoubtedly played a significant role in John McCain's eight-point win over Mitt Romney in the Republican primary that year."
Young Republican primary voters in New Hampshire are poised to play a deciding role in Tuesday's election, not simply because of their higher-than-average turnout rates, but also because of their ideological make-up. In the 2008 New Hampshire Republican primary, 55 percent of participants ages 18-29 identified as "Republicans," but in that same primary election 39 percent the young Republican primary voters identified themselves as "Independents."
"Every campaign should pay attention to young voters in New Hampshire," continued Levine. "Since nearly 40 percent of young Republican primary voters in '08 identified themselves as 'Independents,' candidates should be aware that many young voters could be Independents again this year. I suspect it was no coincidence that Rick Santorum's first post-Iowa town hall yesterday in New Hampshire was held on a college campus comprised primarily of young New Hampshire college students."
CIRCLE will provide a youth voter turnout estimate for the New Hampshire primary on Wednesday, Jan. 11 in addition to detailed information about the history of youth participation in the New Hampshire primaries and in the state's politics and civil society.
Note: "Turnout" means the proportion of eligible citizens who participate. "Turnout" should not be confused with the proportion of New Hampshire's primary voters who are young. That statistic will be reported by the Edison Research exit polls on Jan. 10, but it is not a meaningful measure of youth involvement.