CIRCLE (The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement)
conducts research on the civic and political engagement of young Americans.
The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement

Louisiana Youth Turnout 2%

March 25th, 2012
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15,000 Louisiana Citizens Under Age 30 Participate in Primary; Santorum Wins About Half Youth Vote

MEDFORD/SOMERVILLE, Mass. – Two percent of eligible voters under the age of 30 in Louisiana participated in last night’s primary, according to preliminary analysis by CIRCLE (The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning & Engagement). The youth turnout rose slightly between 2012 and 2004.  While no two primary years are the same, we compare the 2012 primary to 2004 since in both cases only one party had a competitive race.  Overall youth turnout was 7% in 2008 and 3% in 2000, but in those years both the Republicans and the Democrats held competitive races in Louisiana.  Fifty-one percent of young voters supported former Senator Rick Santorum; Rep. Ron Paul gained the second most youth votes with 23% (see Table 2).

Because of a lack of available data, the CIRCLE turnout estimates do not include young people who participated in yesterday’s uncontested Democratic primary. Youth turnout rate and number of youth votes are based on CIRCLE analysis of publicly available information (see Sources below).

* Combines the Democratic and Republican figures. For separate results by party, see Table 3

**2004 statistics only include the Democratic Primary. There was no Republican Primary in 2004, because President George W. Bush was an incumbent and the GOP nomination.

***2012 and 1996 statistics only include the Republican Primary.  In these years, there was/is no competitive Democratic Primary, because there was an incumbent president from the Democratic Party that took the nomination.

Sources:  The share of Primary participants is obtained from the 2012, 2008, and 2004 LA exit poll conducted by Edison Research, and the 2000 and 1996 LA exit poll conducted by Voter News Services.   The numbers of votes cast are obtained from the 100% reporting, as of 9:30 am, Eastern time, 3/25/2012.)  The numbers of votes cast in the past election years were obtained from various sources including the Washington Post archives (1996), Federal Election Commission (2000 and 2004), and (2008).  Estimated voter turnout is obtained by taking the estimated number of votes cast by young people and dividing it by the estimated population of the 18-to-29-year-old citizens from the Current Population Survey (1995-2011).   See p. 3 for definitions.

Comparisons to past years must be made with caution, because turnout is affected by the date of the caucuses and by the nature of the Democratic and Republican presidential campaigns, which are different in every cycle. For example, in 2008 both the Republicans and Democrats held primaries, but in 2012 only the Republicans held a competitive primary.  Table 4 provides estimates of youth participation in Louisiana primary by party and year.


Youth: For the purpose of this press release and estimation of youth participation in the Louisiana Primary, we define “youth” as citizens who were eligible to vote on March 24, 2012, as permitted by state election law (18-29 year-old citizens).

Number of youth who participated: An estimate of how many youth participated in caucuses or primaries.

Youth share: An estimate of the number of young people who participated in the primary as a percentage of the number of all people who participated.

Youth turnout rate: An estimate of the number of young people who participated in caucuses or cast ballots as a percentage of the total number of young people who were eligible to participate on March 24, 2012.

The youth turnout rate is the best indicator of how young Americans are engaging in the political process. The other statistics—the sheer number of youth participants and the youth share of the electorate—can change because of factors unrelated to youth engagement.

To obtain more extensive information about Louisiana‘s young voters and historical voting trends, click here.

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