More youth turned out to vote on Tuesday than in any other recent election, but the number still underwhelmed some experts.
Only half of all eligible voters under age 30 voted Tuesday, according to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement.
President-elect Barack Obama won an unprecedented large majority of the under-30 vote - 66 percent - according to exit polls.
The percentage of youth who voted in this election was between 1 and 6 percent higher than the percentage who turned out in 2004.
Still, youth turnout was "not as impressive as some people expected it to be," said Sheilah Mann, director of education and professional development for the American Political Science Association.
Youth voters composed 18 percent of the total turnout, yet they represent 21 percent of the voting-eligible population - an indication that other age demographics still turn out to vote more.
"I might have thought that [youth turnout] would be a bit bigger," Mann said. "There was so much enthusiasm among young voters, and it seemed as if so many new voters and young adults who had not voted before would turn out."
Penn Leads the Vote said Tuesday night that more than 90 percent of voters registered at on-campus polling locations showed up to cast ballots.
CIRCLE research director Peter Levine said he expected a larger turnout across the board, not just from youth.
Current estimates put total turnout at about 65 percent.
"We really shouldn't be satisfied with the kind of voter turnout we have today," he said.
Obama's consistent political narrative and distinctive persona, along with "considerable anti-Bush sentiment," were responsible for his popularity among young voters, Mann said.
College sophomore Hannah Connor said she was excited about Obama's candidacy because she agreed with so many of his political positions.
"I thought he was a great moment of change in America," she said.
College junior Ben Dubow attributed Obama's success among young voters at Penn - Obama received 84 percent of the vote in divisions on and near campus - to Obama's youthful political ideals.
"Obama is a candidate who really believes in what college kids believe in," said Dubow, saying he was "enthusiastic about the enthusiasm Obama brought to everybody else."
Obama used a variety of wide-reaching technological media - such as text messages and viral videos - to attract and mobilize young voters.
The two-to-one youth vote for Obama is especially intriguing because in recent years youth voters have appeared unwilling to align with either major party.
"It will be interesting to see if Obama can succeed in transferring his appeal to his party," Levine added.
Staff writer Mara Wishingrad contributed reporting to this article.Comments powered by Disqus
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