July 21, 2018

Youth Voter Registration Surges

Registration rates for voters aged 18-29 have significantly increased in key battleground states over the last seven months

By Tom Bonier / 07.19.2018
TargetSmart Communications

A new TargetSmart analysis of voter registration data in the 39 states with available data show that registration rates for voters aged 18-29 have significantly increased in key battleground states over the last seven months, presaging the increased impact youth voters may have on the upcoming midterm and presidential elections.

Using February 14, 2018, as a reference point ­­– the date on which the Parkland shooting happened, which spurred a youth-led movement to register young voters across the country — TargetSmart’s analysis found that the share of youth registrants nationwide has increased by 2.16 percent, a potentially impactful surge in youth enrollment. With more than a dozen states’ primaries still left and months until voter registration deadlines, the findings are an early quantitative sign that youth turnout is on the rise in this year’s midterm elections.

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The state-by-state analysis shows that younger voters are poised to have an outsized impact in key battleground races. Pennsylvania – which has November elections for U.S. Senator, Governor, and many critical House races – saw youth voter registration surge by over 16 points after February 14, jumping from 45.2 percent to 61.4 percent of new registrants.

Other states with critical elections that may decide control of the U.S. Senate and House also showed large increases in youth registration, including Arizona (+8.2 point increase), Florida (+8), Virginia (+10.5), Indiana (+9.9), and New York (+10.7).

This spike in voter registration activity comes on the heels of the grassroots movement to address gun violence issues.

18-29 Year-Old Voter Registration Increase Data, by State

AK 0.09
AL 2.11
AZ 8.16
CA 3.37
CO 2.34
CT 4.34
DC -2.99
DE 3.29
FL 7.99
GA 0.88
IA -0.3
IN 9.87
KS 3.48
LA 3.97
MD 2.69
ME 1.39
MN 4.68
MT 3.81
NC 5.51
NE 5.69
NJ 1.22
NM 2.14
NV 6.62
NY 10.7
OH 5.95
OK 4.12
OR 1.63
PA 16.14
RI 11.05
SD -1.4
TN 3.82
TX 0.12
UT 0.13
VA 10.49
VT 6.05
WA 3.57
WI 5.64
WV -11.52
WY -7.1

A recent poll by Harvard University’s Institute of Politics, conducted in the wake of the school shooting in Parkland, Fla., found that 64 percent of 18-29 year-olds favor common sense gun reforms.

TargetSmart’s analysis reviewed voter registration data in 40 states across the country, where the official voter rolls have been updated since February 14. In each state we calculated the share of new registrants age 29 or younger in the period before the Parkland shooting to the share in the same time period after the shooting. Because states release voter file updates on varied schedules, the time period varies from state to state, but the period for analysis within each state included a symmetrical period before and after February 14.

Press Release from TargetSmart Communications