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Friday, August 10, 2012

Youth and the 2012 Election

Though we tend to think that young people participate in politics primarily as volunteers, they can donate money, too.  Dan Glaun writes at Open Secrets:
After effectively rallying the youth vote in 2008, President Barack Obama has raised just one-third as much money from students so far for his re-election bid compared to the same point four years ago, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.
The Obama campaign had brought in nearly $2.4 million in itemized contributions from individuals who classify themselves as students from the beginning of the 2008 election cycle through the end of June. However, students account for less than $850,000 of the president's total fundraising haul during the same period in 2012.
Mitt Romney, on the other hand, has been slightly more successful in raising funds from students than his GOP presidential nominee predecessor, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). As of June 30, 2008, the McCain campaign had collected about $518,000 from students, while Team Romney has taken in nearly $603,000 this time around.

Overall, Obama's camp has seen the advantage over their main Republican challenger in itemized student contributions shrink from a $1.87 million gap to just $246,000 in four years.
Students are not nearly as financially active with the super PACs supporting the presidential candidates. The pro-Romney Restore Our Future has received one $2,500 check from student Nathaniel Walton of Marblehead, MA, but the Obama-backing Priorities USA has not raised a cent from any students this election cycle.
The Pew Research Center reports on the results of a 10-item knowledge poll:
In general, older voters are better informed about the election than are voters under the age of 35. This is consistent with the findings of previous knowledge surveys, but the gap between young and old voters is much more modest than the one seen across educational levels. Young voters are about as likely as older voters to know that Mitt Romney is pro-life and that he opposes gay marriage; 80% can correctly identify Joe Biden as the current vice president. Young voters trail older voters when it comes to questions such as the state Obama represented in the Senate and which candidate supports taxing income over $250,000. Nonetheless, half or more of voters under age 35 are able to answer eight of the 12 questions correctly.
The actual knowledge gap is probably greater than these numbers suggest, because they only involve voters.  Young people are much less likely to vote than older people.  If Pew were to compare all younger and older people -- nonvoters included -- it would probably find a wider gap on most itmes.