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About those young voters...

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 aged 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 between 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 was their top issue, followed by the economy (28 percent) and health care (19 percent).

Vote by age:
Age Range ObamaClintonEdwards

Candidate qualities by age:
Age Range Can bring about needed change Has the right experience Cares about people like me Has the best chance to win
17-29 63 13 20 4
30-4458 15 19 7
45-64 50 21 17 10
65+ 41 27 20 9

Top issues by age:
Age Range The economyThe war in IraqHealth care

Ideology by age:
Age Range LiberalModerateConservative

Party identification by age:
Age Range DemocratIndependentRepublican

SOURCE: All data from the National Election Pool Iowa entrance poll conducted by Edison/Mitofsky. The NEP is a consortium of ABC News, the Associated Press, CBS News, CNN, Fox News and NBC News.

By Jennifer Agiesta  |  January 7, 2008; 1:21 PM ET
Categories:  Polls  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Five Key Findings from the Iowa Entrance Poll
Next: The CCI moves to ABC


A key measure missing here is concern about the environment. Both from what I've seen myself and from what I've read in youth coverage (including how it polled on the Facebook debates) this is a major issue that is motivating youth on their voting, but it's missing here with only traditional polling issues (based on older voter patterns) being covered. Considering only 2 GOP nominees are even talking about addressing global warming (McCain and Huckabee) and only 1 believes it's a man made problem (McCain), the environment is an issue that goes a long way to demonstrating why younger voters are trending liberal.

Posted by: DGG | January 7, 2008 7:36 PM | Report abuse

As a Canadian watching the U.S. media, my take on the race will be that Obama and McCain take Super Tuesday, and Clinton leaves shortly afterwards.

Events in Pakistan and perhaps the Taiwan Strait will put a spotlight on Obama's and McCain's ability to manage international crises.

We shall see:


Posted by: mungo70 | January 7, 2008 11:28 PM | Report abuse

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