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Younger Iowans Were More Ideological, Survey Shows

By Jennifer Agiesta and Jon Cohen, Behind the Numbers
A well-reported five-point bump in turnout among younger voters helped propel Barack Obama to victory in Iowa, and a look behind the numbers shows just how different this new generation of caucusgoers is from the historically more "reliable" group of over-65 voters.

Last Thursday evening, 22 percent of Democratic caucusgoers were under 30 years old, the same proportion of the electorate made up by those 65 and older, according to the network entrance poll (Democrats, Republicans). (In 2004, the seniors made up 27 percent of all caucusgoers; those aged 17-29, 17 percent; in 2000 those under 30 were just 9 percent of caucusgoers.) And this year, younger voters were worlds apart on ideology, party identification, issues and the election's primary flashpoint: "change."

Politically, Iowa caucusgoers under age 30 were more likely than the senior set to call themselves independents: 26 percent of 17-29 year olds called themselves "independent," more than double the percentage of seniors (12 percent) saying so.

Young caucusgoers are, however, more ideological than their older counterparts. Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of 17-29 year-olds described themselves as "liberal" (including 29 percent "very liberal"), while a majority of those 65 and up said they are moderate (55 percent). Thirty-seven percent of seniors called themselves liberal.

For both younger and older voters, "change" was the top factor in the Democratic contest, but for younger voters, it was the dominant factor. Nearly three-quarters of those under 30 said the ability to bring about needed change was the top quality they were looking for in a candidate, more than triple the percentage choosing either empathy or experience. By contrast, among those age 65 and older, the gap was much narrower: 41 percent chose change, 27 percent experience and 20 percent "cares about people like me."

On the issues, those under 30 were evenly divided on the top three issues in the campaign: 34 percent were most concerned about the economy, 33 percent health care and 32 percent the war in Iraq. Older voters coalesced around the war, with 47 percent calling it their top issue, followed by the economy (28 percent) and health care (19 percent).

By Web Politics Editor  |  January 7, 2008; 2:32 PM ET
Categories:  The Pollster  
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Comments

After Obama gets through a rough year of campaigning, we'll see if "Rock the Vote" works as well in the general election though.

Posted by: JakeD | January 7, 2008 2:37 PM | Report abuse

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