According to CIRCLE’s calculations of exit polls, youth turnout was 26% in Virginia and 18% in New Jersey this year. Using the same methods, CIRCLE concluded that youth turnout in Virginia was 17% in 2009 and 18% in 1997, and in New Jersey 26% in 1997 and 19% in 2009. This suggests a significant increase in Virginia in 2013 compared to the two most recent gubernatorial races.
These turnout estimates mean that roughly 288,000 young voters cast ballots on November 5th in Virginia, out of the estimated 1.1 million 18-29 year-old citizens who live in that state. In New Jersey, roughly 206,000 young voters cast a ballot out of the estimated 1.2 million 18-29 year old citizens.
CIRCLE Director Peter Levine noted that “Although 18% and 26% are far from satisfactory, these statistics should be put in context,” and that “Turnout is always much lower in off-year gubernatorial elections than in presidential years”
* The estimated numbers of young people who voted in the 1997 and 2009 governors’ races were calculated using: (1) the number of ballots cast in each race according to the media, (2) the youth share of those who voted, based on the exit polls conducted by Edison Research for the National Election Pool, and (3) the estimated number of 18-29 year old citizens taken from the Census Current Population Survey, March Demographic File of that year. Edison Research estimates that its exit polls have a margin of error rate of plus or minus three percentage points.