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Gallup Dispels Some Youth Vote Hype

11:23 AM, Oct 23, 2008 • By GARY ANDRES
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Given the hype of the Obama candidacy and his campaign's massive mobilization effort, will America's youth deliver for "The One?"

Millennial voters certainly have a lot of encouragement this year. As Tom Edmunds points out in this recent piece in Politics magazine:

Judging from all the hype, you'd think that the Illinois senator is poised to surf into office on a cresting tsunami of the youth vote. Labeled the "Year of the Youth Vote" by Time magazine, called "The Year the Youth Vote Arrives" by Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne, 2008 is supposedly when the wireless and digitized Millennial generation will register its power by selecting Obama as the next commander-in-chief.

But according to a new report released by Gallup, all the hullabaloo about Obama's appeal to younger Americans is a bit overblown. A couple surprising findings:

First, Obama isn't polling much better among young voters than John Kerry was in 2004:

This strength of support for a Democratic presidential nominee among the youth is not a new phenomenon. In Gallup's final poll before the 2004 election, the Democratic nominee John Kerry received 59% of the support of 18- to 29-year-old registered voters, while the Republican George W. Bush received 36% support. That compared to the overall sample of registered voters in which Kerry was leading Bush by 2 points, 48% to 46%. (Bush led Kerry among likely voters by 49% to 47%.)

Of course turnout matters here too. Getting 60 percent of a bigger slice of electoral pie could help. Yet Gallup raises these questions about turnout:

Gallup Poll daily tracking suggests that 18- to 29-year-olds are not nearly as likely as older voters to be registered to vote, to say they are thinking about the election, or to express strong intentions to vote. Thus, as of mid-October, there is not convincing evidence in the Gallup data that young voters will in fact vote at higher rates than in past elections.

Edmunds may be right when he concludes:

But the vision for the near term seems very clear. 2008 will once again be a year in which the anticipated youth vote did not materialize.