October 29, 2010
Wesley Burt

Where is the youth vote? Not where you think...

There has been a lot of talk in the media, national and local, about how the youth vote is being under-polled, giving an advantage to the Republicans in this election cycle's political polling. Though it may be true that young people nationwide are a base demographic for the Democratic Party, there are often national patterns that cannot be applied to the state of Oklahoma, and according to state election board data, this is one of them.

The state election board numbers from the July 27th primary found that 262,196 Democrats and 250,164 Republicans voted in the primary. When those numbers are broken down by age we find that 25,593 Republican voters were between the age of 18 and 34 compared to only 21,097 Democratic voters. Conversely there is a much higher number of older Democrat voters than older Republican voters. Keep in mind that Oklahomans 18-34 make up 23.6% of the population according to the U.S. Census.

Republican Voters in July 27th Primary, Percentage of the Republican Vote, Democratic Voters in July 27th Primary, Percentage of the Democratic Vote

65+: 81,369 32.5% 102,978 39.3%
50-64: 90,682 36.2% 93,951 35.8%
35-49: 52,520 20.9% 44,170 16.8%
18-34: 25,593 10.2% 21,097 8.0%

Total 250,164 100.0% 262,196 100.0%

It is worth noting that those 18 - 34 only made up 10.2 percent of voting Republicans and 8.1 percent of voting Democrats in the primary. The youth vote is nowhere near as strong as the older vote, simply because, as the chart shows, they do not vote.

Even in the 2008 general election, which is widely held to be the election that young Democratic voters were most enthused about, we see that most Democratic voters here in the state are 50 or older and that the Republican party had more voters between the age of 35 and 49 as well as under the age of 35.

Republican Voters in 2008 General Election, Percentage ofthe Republican Vote, Democratic Voters in 2008 General Election, Percentage ofthe Democratic Vote

65+: 133,595 21.8% 197,634 28.4%
50-64: 192,698 31.4% 223,408 32.2%
35-49: 165,637 27.1%1 54,246 22.2%
18-34: 120,279 19.6% 118,969 17.1%

Total 612,209 100.0% 694,257 100.0%

SoonerPoll stratifies each poll by age, among other things, to make sure that each and every demographic is representative of the likely voter turnout model. With that said, and assuming no voter crossed over party lines, state election board data shows that not only is the youth vote too small to have a major impact on the results, it would likely favor the Republicans if it made an impact at all.

Wesley Burt is the Communications Director and a Political Analyst for SoonerPoll.com

Wesley Burt
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Wesley Burt