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Youth Vote Could Play Major Super Tuesday Role in Commonwealth

Outside candidates like Bernie Sanders (pictured) and Donald Trump are helping drive younger voters to the polls. (AFGE)
Outside candidates like Bernie Sanders (pictured) and Donald Trump are helping drive younger voters to the polls. (AFGE)
February 22, 2016

BOSTON, Mass. – Massachusetts voters will be among the next to cast ballots in what is turning out to be a hotly contested primary season – and there are signs the youth vote could be a deciding factor.

Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg, director of the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE), says younger voters turned out in force for New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation primary election. Their numbers tied the record for youth turnout, set in 2008, and she says there is good reason to expect a similar response in the Commonwealth.

"So, Massachusetts has that enormous number of colleges, especially in the Boston area," says Kawashima-Ginsberg. "Really reaching out, specifically to young people there, is definitely of a good return on investment. Also, the highly-educated people turn out at a higher rate."

According to CIRCLE's analysis of the primary, Democrats turned out the most young voters in New Hampshire, but the Republican party saw the greatest increase in terms of share of younger people participating.

Massachusetts and Vermont will be two of the dozen states holding primaries or caucuses on Super Tuesday, March 1.

Kawashima-Ginsberg says the CIRCLE analysis shows 43 percent of younger voters ages 18 to 29 cast ballots in the New Hampshire primary.

"Turning out in large number from both parties," she notes. "So, it's not just Democratic youth who are showing incredible enthusiasm for Bernie Sanders – but also Republicans, who are really trying to decide who represents their ideology and their voices."

The CIRCLE analysis finds 83 percent of young Democrats voted for Bernie Sanders in New Hampshire. On the GOP side, Donald Trump came away with 37 percent of the youth vote.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - MA