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

YESI 2018: The States Where Youth Can Swing Senate and Governor Races

March 27th, 2018
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Many sectors of society must play a role in increasing youth voting and participation in democracy, and they can employ varied strategies to drive engagement. Different stakeholders will approach these efforts with diverse goals: some want to improve equity in civic participation, others to build a broad base of political power, and others still simply to win the next election.

CIRCLE’s updated Youth Electoral Significance Index (YESI) is a valuable tool for any individual, campaign, organization, or institution that seeks to increase youth political engagement. Earlier this month, we highlighted the top 10 congressional districts where young people might have an especially high electoral influence. Today we are releasing the top 10 senate and gubernatorial races where young people have the potential to do the same. The YESI can help stakeholders identify places where additional efforts and resources to turn out the youth vote could be decisive. It can also be a tool for equity and broadening engagement, if efforts focus on reaching those not yet engaged in the top-ranked locations.

Explore the Interactive Index | Read the Full Report and Methodology

Because young people have the biggest potential to decide an election when it’s projected to be close, competitiveness is a major factor in our Youth Electoral Significance Index (YESI). Thus our Senate and Governor’s Top 10 features primarily two types of races: those with a vulnerable Democratic incumbent in a state Donald Trump carried in 2016, and elections for open seats following a sitting senator’s retirement/resignation, or a sitting governor who is prevented by term limits from running again or has otherwise decided not to seek reelection. These races, like all competitive elections, are invaluable opportunities to drive especially high levels of interest and engagement from young voters.

Along with competitiveness, in each summary we highlight additional data that makes each state more likely to be ranked highly. This includes facilitative state election laws, large youth populations, and the presence of a considerable number of institutions of higher education, since campaigns often rely on colleges and universities to reach many potential young voters in one place.

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