Meriah Doty on Tuesday, Jan. 10th
Youth voter turnout in New Hampshire is typically among the highest in the nation — on par with that of older voters, according to new research put forth by the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE).
Turnout among voters aged 18-to-29 more than doubled during the state’s 2008 primaries, when President Obama ran for office, CIRCLE research reflects. As the polls are open today in New Hampshire, are we seeing that level of activity this time around? No, says New Hampshire Public Radio reporter Josh Rogers.
I emailed Josh today, inquiring about the possible effects of the youth vote on today’s New Hampshire primary. Here is the result of our conversation:
TURNSTYLE: Young voters in New Hampshire have among the highest turnout rates in the country — on par with older voters. Why is that?
JOSH ROGERS: One thing that facilitates participation by all primary voters are New Hampshire’s election laws. Voters here can register at the polls, and registered independent voters — in New Hampshire we call them undeclared — can vote in either party’s primary. Voters are also not required to show ID.
TS: Youth voter turnout for the New Hampshire Primary more than doubled in 2008 (according to CIRCLE). Anecdotally, are you seeing anything notable today among young voters at New Hampshire polling stations?
JR: While Texas Congressman Ron Paul has the most conspicuous support from many younger voters, I don’t think anyone expects participation by the young to reach the heights of four years ago, when the Obama/Clinton primary brought many young people to the polls, particularly in New Hampshire’s college towns.
TS: How disruptive has the Occupy Movement been at this primary? Any surprises?
JR: The Occupy folks have been around. But apart from a few interruptions at candidate events — chanting, the occasional trombone interlude — and an encampment in a Manchester park, the Occupy Movement hasn’t been particularly high-profile here.
TS: What issues do young Republican voters in New Hampshire seem to care the most about? Are most young voters today actually Republican? (From CIRCLE: Nearly 40% of Young Republican Primary Voters Identified as “Independent” in 2008. … There were roughly 51,000 youth who participated in the Democratic primary in 2008 and 33,000 youth who participated in the Republican primary.)
JR: There are surely many young voters who are drawn to the Republican party but I don’t think, nor do Republican leaders here, that most young voters in New Hampshire are Republicans.
As far as issues go, most young republicans I’ve been talking to say fiscal matters are their top concerns: the national debt, the federal budget, federal spending. Fewer of them support the social issues that are important to many conservatives: opposition to same-sex marriage, for instance.
TS: Is there a decipherable sentiment or trend you are witnessing at the polls today?
JR: Turnout was expected to be fairly high, but I personally saw nothing that leaves me convinced it necessarily will be high. Mitt Romney is surely expected to win. If he doesn’t it would be a big loss. But the race for second does seems to be between Ron Paul and former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, who have both reached out to young people. So youth voters could be pivotal in that respect.