Oct 3, 2018

A ground view of youth voting

Today near the central lawn at the University of Virginia. Photo: Max Patten

Last week, we wrote about a reported surge in youth voting in U.S. battleground state primaries — at least in part due to the "Parkland effect," a result of the registration campaign by high school students seeking stricter gun laws.

Driving the news: How energized voters aged 18–29 are is a major preoccupation. If they turn out on Nov. 6 in larger numbers than usual, they could be decisive in close races.

  • For an early snapshot of the landscape, Max Patten, a freshman at the University of Virginia, did a survey for Axios on the campus' central lawn on Sept. 25, National Voter Registration Day.
  • The location is important: Virginia is a key battleground state, and Charlottesville — the scene of a deadly August 2017 march by white supremacists — is a major fault line in the divided nation.
  • It's also in a congressional district that could flip: President Trump won the district by 5 points in 2016, but Real Clear Politics rates it a toss-up.

Patten writes of his thinking prior to the survey: UVA "is known for a strong emphasis on tradition and conservative values. ... Will students here be likely voters in midterms, and will they even vote left?"

Riley Creamer, secretary of College Republicans in Virginia, told Patten in an email that “most newly registered voters will be Democrats.”

By the numbers: What Patten actually found:

  • 28 of 31 students surveyed were registered to vote.
  • 21 — 75% of those registered — said they will probably vote Nov. 6.
  • In terms of leanings, 16 of 31 students — just over half — identified as Democrats, and all but one said they would probably vote. Just four said they were Republican. The eight who saw themselves as moderates or independents identified as the least likely to show up.

The bottom line: Patten said he expected to hear much of President Trump. But, he said, "[t]he students never (with the exception of 1) mentioned Trump by name but took views strongly contrary to him on the issues they mentioned."

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