Young electors in the United States have been making their voices heard and although the votes are being counted, their choice could shape the outcome of the closely-fought 2020 presidential election and decide the presidency of the world's oldest democracy.
According to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University, voters aged between 18 to 29 are voting in record numbers, including more than eight million young people who voted early or absentee in the 2020 elections.
“I think with the recent happenings, racial injustice and the pandemic, it's kind of driving people to be more passionate about the things that are happening in our world as well as just passionate about electing leaders that have the same ideas and values that they do,” Texas Southern University junior Mariah Campbell said.
Young voters have been making their voices heard and mobilising, an extension of rising youth activism in response to concerns over issues such as racial inequality, climate change and gun violence, CIRCLE said.
According to an analysis from the CIRCLE, the preeminent, non-partisan research center on youth engagement at Tufts University's Jonathan M Tisch College of Civic Life, youth votes have been crucial in the 2020 elections.
In Pennsylvania, youth made up 14 per cent of the vote and supported Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden by +23; in Michigan, they made up 15 per cent of the vote and supported Biden by +29; in North Carolina, they made up 16 per cent of the vote and supported Biden by +16; in Georgia, they made up 21 per cent and supported Biden by +15 and in Arizona, they made up 17 per cent of the vote and supported Biden by +28, it said.
An early estimate of aggregate youth voter turnout in 11 crucial battleground states suggests that 47 to 49 per cent of all eligible young people cast ballots.
This estimate is based on an initial analysis of 2020 National Election Pool exit poll and Census population data.
“If votes continue coming in at the same rate in each state, youth voter turnout across these states could rise to 51 to 53 per cent. For comparison, using the same sources and methodology, we estimate that youth turnout nationally was 42 to 44 per cent in 2016 at this same moment,” it said.
Young voters preferred former vice president Biden over President Donald Trump in 32 of the 39 states for which data has been reported so far, in most cases by strong, double-digit margins.
Nationally, based on CIRCLE analysis of AP VoteCast data from the Associated Press, 62 per cent of youth (aged between 18 to 29) voted for Biden, and 33 per cent voted for Trump.
While not exactly comparable, because of separate sources and methodology in each year, this is higher than the level of youth support Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton received in 2016, and higher than the level of youth support President Barack Obama received in 2012.
Young people chose differently than older voters, and there were also major differences by race/ethnicity. Young white voters preferred Biden by 6 points (51 per cent versus 45 per cent). Young Black, Asian, and Latino voters, respectively, supported Biden by overwhelming margins of 77, 72, and 49 points.
Within those differences by race/ethnicity, there are differences by gender.
For example, young white men preferred President Trump by 6 points (51 per cent versus 45 per cent), while young white women supported Biden over Trump by 13 points: 55 per cent to 42 per cent.
States tracking a high youth share of the vote include Georgia (highest at 21 per cent youth share of the overall vote), Arizona, New Hampshire, Maine, Virginia, Nevada and states in the upper Northwest.
The youth vote in Georgia is a big and developing story. In Georgia, Trump currently leads the tallies by a little over 88,000 votes; however, if the youth vote were taken out of the equation, his lead would expand to over 228,000 votes.
Young voters under 30 have so far given Biden a net of 140,000 votes. This means that, by favoring Biden 55 per cent versus 41 per cent, young voters are likely keeping the Georgia race from being called in Trump's favour.