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

New CIRCLE Estimate: 2014 Youth Turnout Was 22.2%

December 10th, 2014
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CIRCLE’s latest analysis of young people’s participation in last month’s midterm elections puts the youth turnout rate at 22.2%.

Our previous youth turnout estimate, calculated two days after the election, was 21.5%. These estimates are determined by analyzing national exit polls, demographic data, and current counts of votes cast; as the latter number goes up, youth turnout generally rises. A final youth turnout number, based on the Census’ Current Population Survey, will be available next year.

Our current estimate of 22.2% is comparable to youth turnout in previous midterm years, despite the low overall turnout of the electorate as a whole in 2014. It is close to the youth turnout we measured after the election in 2010 (22.8%) and in line with the youth turnout trend in recent midterm contests, which has remained mostly flat in a range between 20% and 25%.

2010 2014
Preliminary, Day-After Exit Poll-based Estimate 20.4% youth turnout

(11% youth share)

21.3% youth turnout

(13% youth share)

Week After Exit Poll-based Estimate 20.9% youth turnout

(11% youth share)

21.5% youth turnout

(13% youth share)

Final Exit Poll-based Estimate 22.8% youth turnout

(12% youth share)

22.2% youth turnout

(13% youth share)

Current Population Survey Estimate 24%

Will be released in Spring 2015

That stagnation, and the level of youth political disengagement it reflects, provide further evidence that efforts to significantly move the needle on voting and political participation by young people must evolve. While campaigns and parties made some attempts to engage youth in the lead-up to 2014, those efforts were uneven at best, trivial and patronizing, at worst. An innovative, collaborative approach that combines improved civic education, policies to simplify registration and voting, and serious, sustained outreach to young voters is needed.

Read our Top 8 Takeaways about Young Voters and the 2014 Election and more of our midterm data and analysis.

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