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“Brexit Is A Warning To Young American Voters”: Historically Low Young Voter Turnout Trend

The results of the Brexit referendum shine a light on the importance of the youth vote, and young Americans should learn from them as we approach our own crossroads in November.

Seventy-five percent of voters 24 and younger were against the Brexit, and for remaining in the European Union. British voters 49 and younger also favored the Remain option, according to polls conducted before the vote.

A poll taken before election day showed that 34 percent of pensioners backed Remain, and 59 percent backed the Brexit.

“Young people voted to remain by a considerable margin, but were outvoted. They were voting for their future, yet it has been taken from them.” Liberal Democratic leader Tim Farron said of Britain’s referendum decision to leave the European Union.

British youth overwhelmingly took to social media to express feelings of helplessness about facing a future they did not choose. Many were angry that older voters who have enjoyed the benefits of the European Union decided on a different, uncertain path for the future generations.

“This decision was made by an aging population who has spent decades reaping the many benefits of the EU. These people have voted for a future that is not their own,” wrote university student Alana Chen in a Facebook post. “They will not be here to feel the full effects of the devastation they have caused with their votes. It’s us, the student generation that now have to live with something we voted against. Tell me how that’s fair?! Our country is crumbling and we’re completely helpless to stop it. Utterly devastating.”

Political journalist Nicholas Barret wrote in a now-viral reaction to the vote: “The younger generation has lost the right to live and work in 27 other countries. We will never know the full extent of the lost opportunities, friendships, marriages and experiences we will be denied. Freedom of movement was taken away by our parents, uncles, and grandparents in a parting blow to a generation that was already drowning in the debts of our predecessors.”

Even voters who chose the Leave option have expressed regret after their side won.

“I did not think that was going to happen, I didn’t think my vote was going to matter too much because I thought we were just going to remain,” a young man named Adam told the BBC.

Voting preferences showed a strong correlation with age. East coast areas, which have the largest pensioner populations, scored the highest pro-Brexit votes. YouGov poll results in the days before the vote told a clear story:

Age breakdown on Brexit polls tells underlying story. Older generation voted for a future the younger don’t want: pic.twitter.com/kMPECqQF6u

— Murtaza Hussain (@MazMHussain) June 24, 2016

The Guardian broke down the British youth vote:

Voter ages are not recorded, but in urban areas where the average age was 35 and under, electoral commission data showed overwhelming support for remaining in the EU. This was particularly marked in the London local authorities of Lambeth, Hackney and Harringey, where the average age is between 31 and 33, and which all voted over 75% in favour of remaining in the EU.

Oxford and Cambridge, the councils with the highest percentage of 18- to 25-year-olds, were also remain strongholds, as was Tower Hamlets, which has the highest percentage of 21- to 30-year-olds. According to YouGov polling before the referendum result, 64% of under-25s said they wanted the UK to remain. With a life expectancy for that generation of 90, younger voters have approximately eight more decades to live compared with the voters who most favoured leaving, the over 65s.

For all their agreement on the right direction for Britain, youth turnout to vote was, perhaps predictably, low. In the largest turnout election in decades in Britain, the number of attainers, or newly eligible voters, fell by 40 percent.

The vote was also held over the summer, when many young people are in summer vacation from college.

According to a Times poll taken at Glastonbury music festival, 22 percent of the young attendee’s did not vote, with 65 percent of those saying they wanted to vote to Remain but did not register in time. They would have added about 15,000 votes to the Remain side.

Michael Sani, a member of the youth voting group Bite the Ballot, said that young voter turnout was negatively affected by the direction of both campaigns, which ignored youth engagement because of the historically low turnout of young voters.

“If no one inspires you, that is how you end up being marginalized, divided and fearing,” Sani told The Guardian. “This generation are so passionate, they care so much about issues, but they are just not empowered to use the means of communication to get through to make real change. Both campaigns have been a disaster in terms of meaningful engagement on such complex issues.”

Prime Minister David Cameron, who has announced his resignation after the Brexit, missed his chance to appeal to young voters. The Cameron-lead government rejected requests from Labour, Liberal Democrats, and the Scottish National Party to allow 16- and 17-year olds to vote in the referendum.

As America faces its own vote in November — one that has been compared to Brexit by presumptive Republican candidate Donald Trump, who backed the Leave option — young people can have a voice in what is sure to be a decisive moment in American history.

They will either follow the historically low young voter turnout trend that contributed to Britain’s exit from the EU, and has been a consistent factor in American politics, or they could learn from this seismic moment in British history and break the pattern.

 

By: Germania Rodriguez, The National Memo, June 24, 2016

June 25, 2016 Posted by | Brexit, Donald Trump, European Union, Young Voters | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“They’re Not An Interesting Story Line”: Hillary’s Army Of Women Conquers New York, Occupies The Democratic Party

We talk endlessly about the youth vote in the Democratic primaries, as Bernie Sanders wins young voters four- and five-to-one. But young voters are typically around one-fifth of electorate; under 30s were 17 percent in New York, according to the exit polls.

But we talk less about the women’s vote, which made up an eye-popping 59 percent of the Democratic vote. That’s three out of five voters, with Clinton winning more than three out of five of those votes (63-37). But hey, they’re not an interesting story line.

Actually that 59 percent number isn’t eye-popping if you’ve done any homework. Women were 58 percent of the Democratic primary vote in New York in 2008, when Clinton beat Barack Obama by one point more than the 16 she topped Sanders by yesterday. And it tracks with other results this year. Women were 58 percent in Florida, 56 percent in Ohio, and 55 percent even in Michigan, which Clinton lost (although she carried women by 51-44 percent). There’s hardly a state where women weren’t at least 55 percent of the vote (in primaries; caucuses don’t have gender breakdowns), and there aren’t many states where Clinton didn’t win among women by double digits.

So what? True, it’s not surprising. But just because something isn’t surprising doesn’t mean it isn’t interesting or that it doesn’t have ramifications. This is, and does.

What’s interesting about it is this: Sanders’s campaign surely knew the 2008 exit-poll data. Don’t you think a candidate might try to craft a message that would appeal more directly to three-fifths of the electorate he’s trying to woo?

Assuming Sanders does lose this nomination, his supporters will complain about the corrupt bosses and the system being rigged and all that. But those who decide to take a slightly more introspective approach to their Monday-morning quarterbacking might ask why their candidate didn’t bother to make any effort to speak more directly to the particular concerns of the groups that are the Democratic Party.

I know, I know—Citizens United affects everybody, health care affects everybody, the big banks affect everybody. You don’t have to tell me. I’m a universalist critic of excessive identity politics going back to the 1990s. At the same time, some measure of identity politics is necessary and good! Different groups of people have actual distinct concerns in life, and politicians are supposed to address them.

When Sanders talks about the Supreme Court, it’s always about Citizens United, and only occasionally about Roe v. Wade. When Clinton went on that riff at the Brooklyn debate about how in all the debates they’d never been asked a single question about Roe, I bet a lot of light bulbs went off over a lot of heads. Sanders didn’t actively alienate women as he did African Americans and their conservative, reality-distorting votes, but he didn’t go out of his way for them either.

As for ramifications, the results tell us a little something about how a general election might play out against Donald Trump or Ted Cruz. It should be pointed out that Trump crushed it among women in New York on the Republican side, since after all as we know he cherishes women and will be the best president for women in history, forget about it. He got 57 percent to John Kasich’s 28 percent and Cruz’s 15 percent. But there, women were only 44 percent of the vote. And in terms of raw vote totals, Clinton hauled in almost exactly twice the number of votes Trump did—1.037 million to 518,000. That means about 665,000 women voted for Clinton, while just 215,000 voted for Trump.

The story has been similar in most contests. In Florida, Trump’s best big state outside of New York, Clinton got 675,000 votes from women, and Trump 464,000. It adds up. Of course Trump is going to dominate her among men overall (she’ll beat him, one assumes, among black and Latino men, just because they’re so overwhelmingly Democratic and, in the case of Latinos, she doesn’t want to throw them out of the country).

The big secret questions of whether Clinton can make it to the White House are these: How much sexism is out there in 2016, in terms of men just not wanting a woman president; and how many women will say “I don’t like that Hillary” a hundred times up until Election Day but then get in the voting booth and think, “Well, woman president…” and pull her lever.

We’re not going to know these things until the morning of Nov. 9. We do know that we’re headed toward a real battle of the sexes this fall.

 

By: Michael Tomasky, The Daily Beast, April 20, 2016

April 21, 2016 Posted by | Hillary Clinton, Women Voters, Young Voters | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Does Sanders Have A Lock On The Youth Vote?”: It’s Still A Little Early For All Of The Assumptions

The huge story coming out of the Iowa caucuses is that young people voted for Bernie Sanders 84/14. Thus developed the meme that he has a lock on that age group around the country and writers like Nate Silver are attempting to explain the phenomenon. But does the polling bear that out?

The problem with examining the question is that there are very few polls of states that will weigh in after New Hampshire – and even fewer that provide information based on age. So with the caveat that these are merely individual polls and should be taken with a grain of salt, here is a bit of evidence to test the meme.

Based on this NBC/WSJ poll (Feb. 2-3), it looks like the New Hampshire results will closely mirror what happened in Iowa with those under 45.

Sanders 72%
Clinton 27%

One of the states that holds its primary on March 1st (Super Tuesday) is Georgia. Here is how the under 40 vote looks in a poll conducted by Landmark Communications (Feb. 4).

Sanders 13.5%
Clinton 61%

North Carolina holds its primary on March 15th. Here’s what Public Policy Polling (Jan 18-19) found for voters under 45 in that state.

Sanders 31%
Clinton 51%

Perhaps these polls from Georgia and North Carolina haven’t accurately captured the millennial surge in those states. Or perhaps Bernimania will catch on there as the vote gets closer. Or maybe, like other age groups, a more diverse collection of young people will vote differently than the mostly white group that we’ve seen in Iowa and New Hampshire. We’ll have to wait and see. But it’s still a little early for all of the assumptions about how Sanders has a lock on the youth vote.

 

By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, February 9, 2016

February 10, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Millennnials, Young Voters | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Power And Limits Of Symbolism”: There Is A Lot More That Goes Into Making Up Our Identity

I remember back in 1984 when I first heard rumors that Walter Mondale was considering the possibility of nominating a woman as his Vice Presidential running mate, my reaction was pretty dismissive. I thought, “Pffttt…another woman in a supporting role, no big deal.”

But then as I watched him actually announce that Geraldine Ferraro would be his running mate, I cried. The tears totally surprised me – I didn’t see them coming. Their source was not my rational mind. Instead, they came from something very deep inside.

I saw the same kinds of tears on the faces of people at Grant Park in Chicago on the night Barack Obama was elected in 2008.

That is the power of symbolism. It touches the place that needs to hear, “You belong.” Whoopi Goldberg captured that very well the next morning when she said, “I’ve always considered myself an American, but for the first time last night, I felt like I could finally put my bags down.” We should never underestimate the power of “you belong” for people who have felt marginalized in our culture. It is not something that we articulate often on a rational basis, but it resides deep in our being.

On the other hand, there are limits to symbolism. There is a lot more that goes into making up our identity than the fact that we are a woman, or African American, or a member of another group that has been marginalized. We are complex human beings with a variety of thoughts and feelings when it comes to politics.

That is something that Republicans (and some Democrats) don’t seem to understand about symbolism. It’s why John McCain chose Sarah Palin as his running mate and thought that is all he needed to do to reach out to women. And it is what some pundits and political strategists think will happen with candidates like Herman Cain and Ben Carson. In many ways that kind of thing only perpetuates the marginalization by assuming that we can be reduced to the fact that we have a uterus or a heavier dose of melanin.

Keep that in mind when you hear pundits assume that a presidential candidate like Marco Rubio will attract Latino and/or young voters. It is, first of all, insulting to many Hispanics to ignore the very real differences between Mexican-Americans, Cuban-Americans, Puerto Rican-Americans, etc. And, of course, it assumes a linkage between both cultures and complex human beings that is reduced to the fact that – for the most part – they share the same language.

I also know of no better way to insult young people than to suggest that the most important thing about them is their age. What most young people are telling us these days is that they are ready to move past the racism/sexism/homophobia that has divided us for so long and get busy tackling things that actually affect their future – like education and climate change. I think they’re smart enough to chose a candidate who speaks to those issues and not get hung up on the year they were born.

So yes, there is power in symbolism. But to assume that marginalized voters can be reduced to one demographic factor is why the word “token” was introduced into discussions about diversity. It is demeaning to think that’s all that matters.

 

By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, January 1, 2016

January 2, 2016 Posted by | Symbolism, Walter Mondale, Young Voters | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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