Voting is habit forming. A healthy number of studies have confirmed that the more a person votes, the more likely she is to vote in the future. Columbia Professors Don Green and Alexander Coppock have taken the research one step further with a study of FL voters who were born in 1989 and 1990. They write in LSE’s US Politics and Policy blog their findings about young voters who either just made or just missed the cutoff for voting in the 2008 election. One would think that voting habits would be similar by demographic cluster—these young people grew up with exposure to the same political and cultural stimuli, graduated in the same high school class, etc.
The study found that those born in the first year—those eligible to vote in 2008—were roughly ten percent more likely to vote in the 2012 election. We saw in the group born in early 1990—where people had birthdays before the cut off date for voting--that just a few days difference in birthdays made a huge difference in actual voting for these 21 and 22 year olds: those who were eligible to vote in 2008 began the important habit forming pattern.
How is this information useful in 2016?
When fighting “Obama Voter drop off” this year, the younger new American Majority Voters (NAM)--with only one trip to the polls to vote for the President--will need more attention than the two time Obama supporters. Good vote history data is even more important with these young people.
Republicans are expanding their electorate in this primary cycle—and we could see the consequences in November. The GOP primaries so far have generated record turnout, a significant portion of that being first-time voters. While this study did not look at primary elections, it stands to reason that these new GOP new voters are unlikely to completely vanish.
The 501-c-3 allies who are registering the NAM voters this year would do well to focus on states and areas within those states where a contested Democratic primary is underway so that these newly registered voters have at least one voting experience before the November contests.
Our apologies to the Columbia political scientists if we've missed important points in our distillation of their article. We invite you to click here for the full text of the article.
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