From the Institute for Democracy & Higher Education at Tufts:
- At 66%, student turnout far exceeded the rate of 52% from the prior presidential election. This comes close to the national voting rate of 67% for all voters in 2020, as calculated by the U.S. Census Bureau.
- In past years, we’ve pointed to low “yield” rates as a problem—students were registering, but not following through and voting. In 2020, the rate of registered students who then voted hit 80%, an important milestone and signal that they are vested in their own futures and the health of democracy
- Maybe campuses attached class registration to voter registration. Maybe first-year students were eager to have their voices heard. For whatever reason, students ages 18-21 defied national patterns and prior student voting patterns and voted at slightly higher rates than older (30+) student voters.
- The highest voting rates were achieved at private baccalaureate degree-granting (BA) and private doctoral-granting (PhD) institutions, and indeed, voting rates at private BA institutions jumped 17 percentage points from 2016. These changes might point to differences in institutional and student resourcing and/or the retention of more affluent students (who vote at significantly higher rates than their poorer peers) in a difficult semester. They may also point to the liberal arts and sciences as a catalyst for voting
- Asian American student participation rose dramatically—a change also observed in the general population3 —although Asian American student turnout was still lower than other demographic groups. Although they participated at high levels and remain among the most consistently reliable group of voters, the increase in Black women’s turnout was significantly lower than was typical across demographic groups. Overall, turnout gaps were no larger between students of different races and sexes than they were in 2016.
- Biggest Gain: Asian-American students up 17 percentage points. Also Significant: Multiracial and White men boast increases of 16-17 percentage points. Largest Gap: Asian-American to White non-Hispanic: 20 percentage points. Most Consistently Reliable Voters: Multiracial, Black, and White women