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

Nevada Youth Turnout: One Percent

February 6th, 2012
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Just 2,600 Nevada Citizens Under Age 30 Participate in Caucus; Paul Wins Youth Vote with 41%

MEDFORD/SOMERVILLE, Mass. – One percent of eligible voters under the age of 30 in Nevada participated in Saturday’s Republican caucus, compared to the 2008 caucus, when 5% of eligible young Nevadans participated in the Democratic and Republican caucuses combined, according to preliminary analysis by the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning & Engagement (CIRCLE).

This year, Rep. Ron Paul won the youth vote in Nevada after also earning the majority in both Iowa and New Hampshire. CIRCLE estimates that only approximately 1,000 young voters supported him in this year’s caucus (see Table 2), while former Gov. Mitt Romney drew slightly less than 1,000 votes from Nevadan caucus-goers under 30. By comparison, more than 15,000 young people participated in the 2008 Nevada Democratic caucuses (see Table 3).

“These very low numbers raise questions about whether Ron Paul can compete in big-state primaries and whether Mitt Romney can draw significant youth support,” said CIRCLE director Peter Levine. “The McCain/Palin campaign performed poorly among young people in 2008, and Mitt Romney has an opportunity to improve, but so far, the primary and caucus turnout rates provide no evidence that he has connected with young people.”

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
** Youth turnout statistics from 1996 to 2004 are not available for Nevada caucuses due to lack of available data.
*** 2012 statistics only include the Republican Caucus. In these years, there was no Democratic Caucus, because there was an incumbent president from the Democratic Party that took the nomination.

Source:  The share of Caucus participants is obtained from the 2012 and 2008 Nevada entrance poll conducted by Edison Research. The numbers of votes cast are obtained from (as of 4:05 a.m. ET, 2/6/2012). The number of votes cast in the 2008 NV caucuses was obtained from (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 17-to 29-year-old citizens from the Current Population Survey (2007-2011). See p. 2 for definitions.

Because of a lack of available data, the CIRCLE turnout estimates do not include young people who participated in the uncontested Democratic primary.

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 caucuses, but in 2012 only the Republicans held a competitive caucus. Table 3 provides estimates of youth participation in Nevada caucus by party and year.


  • Youth: For the purpose of this press release and estimation of youth participation in the Nevada Caucus, we define “youth” as citizens who were eligible to participate in caucus on February 4, 2012, as permitted by state election law.
  • 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 caucus 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 February 4, 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 sign-up to receive copies of CIRCLE’s cutting-edge research on young Americans and next-day voter turnout estimates for the 2012 elections, please email

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

3 Responses to “Nevada Youth Turnout: One Percent”

  1. Ron Paul's Nevada Disappointment - Hit & Run : Reason Magazine Says:

    […] I didn't have in front of me when I posted this originally: youth turnout, always good for Paul, was dismal in Nevada Saturday; only one percent of under 30s voted, compared to 5 percent in 2008. And yes, […]

  2. Ron Paul’s Nevada Disappointment | Real Liberty Media Says:

    […] […]

  3. Can the GOP win over young voters frustrated with Washington? « Katie LaPotin Says:

    […] has consistently won the youth vote in the early nominating contests. In Nevada, for instance, one survey showed Paul winning 41 percent of the youth vote compared to Mitt Romney’s 36 […]