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

25% of Youth in Indiana Participate in Primary

May 4th, 2016
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Estimated youth voter turnout in yesterday’s Indiana primaries was 25%. Overall, an estimated 247,000 young people (17-to-29 years old) cast ballots in Indiana, making up an estimated 14% of all voters.

More youth participated in the Republican primary than the Democratic primary. This was also the case in Ohio and other historically Republican states such as Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and Missouri. The implications of such dynamics for the general election are not yet clear. For example, , more youth voted in 2008 than in 2016 in the Indiana Democratic primary, and then-Senator Obama went on to win the state in the general election.

Comparable data do not exist for previous presidential years for both parties combined. However, with an estimated one-quarter of Indiana youth casting a ballot, this represents a turnout estimate on the higher end for this primary cycle. The estimate exceeds many states, including Maryland (18%), Florida (17%) and New York (14%); is similar to Michigan (27%), Illinois (26%) and Missouri (27%); and is surpassed by New Hampshire (43%) and Wisconsin (33%).




Youth Participation in Indiana Democratic Primary

An estimated 115,000 young people in Indiana participated in it’s state Democratic primary. Senator Bernie Sanders captured a large majority (74%) of these voters. As in New York, 18-24 and 25-29 year olds are estimated to have supported Senator Sanders at different levels, with the younger group being more supportive of him (81% vs. 64%). While this support more than likely helped Senator Sanders edge out Secretary Hillary Clinton, the total number of young voters represents a significant drop from the estimated number of youth who participated in the 2008 Indiana Democratic primary (213,000). However, because the overall number of Democratic voters decreased, the youth share of voters in Indiana (18%) actually increased slightly over 2008 (17%).




Young people made up a larger portion of the Indiana Democratic primary electorate than voters 65 and over (18% of voters vs. 16%). Again, the youth vote made up a much larger portion of votes for Senator Sanders than for Secretary Clinton. While young people clearly helped Senator Sanders win the state, this drop in estimated youth votes compared to 2008 reemphasizes the question of whether and how the Clinton campaign can engage young Sanders supporters.


Youth Participation in Indiana Republican Primary

Overall, more votes were cast in the Indiana Republican primary than the Democratic primary. As a result, while young voters made up a smaller share of the Indiana Republican primary electorate (12%), more youth were estimated to have participated (133,000).

Indiana marked the third state in which Donald Trump has received as high a proportion of young votes in a Republican primary, in addition to Pennsylvania (52%) and Mississippi (45%).  Mr. Trump received an estimated 46% of young votes, while Senator Ted Cruz garnered 39% and Governor John Kasich received 11%. As has been the case in most other states (for which exit poll  data are available), youth were not as supportive of Mr. Trump as older age groups. The youngest voters, those aged 17-24 supported him at a rate of 43%, the lowest of any age group, and supported Senator Cruz at 41%.


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