Social Connectivity and the Youth Vote: Comparing Youth Voter Turnout in 1992 & 2008

Daniel J. Simmons

Abstract


Traditional paradigms of what causes youth (18-29) to vote fail to explain youth voter turnout in the 1990s and the first decade of the 2000s.  Social connectivity may be able to overcome the deficiencies of the traditional concepts, namely that youth vote when an election is extraordinarily hyped or a policy area is particularly salient, and thus improve our ability to predict youth political behavior at the ballot box.  Where social connectivity includes indicators that measure an individual’s relationship with his/her immediate community, such indicators need to be adapted for the more transient youth population.  Thus, I considered employment status, marital status, and religious service attendance as the basis for my social connectivity measurement.  The elections of 1992 and 2008 are not only similar in policy considerations and candidate profiles, but evaluating youth voter turnout from these two elections allowed me to measure social connectivity over two different generations, Generation X and the Millennials who make up the largest generation in U.S. history.  Understanding what a typical youth voter looks like today is crucial to better understanding what form political behavior will take in the 21st century.

Keywords


Youth; Vote; Voter Turnout; Millennial

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