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Record Numbers of Young Voters Turn Out in CT

About 12 percent of the Connecticut primary ballots were cast by 18- to 29-year-olds this year. (Kreg Steppe/Flickr)
About 12 percent of the Connecticut primary ballots were cast by 18- to 29-year-olds this year. (Kreg Steppe/Flickr)
April 29, 2016

HARTFORD, Conn. - Young voters turned out in record numbers for Tuesday's primary in Connecticut -- and they voted their own way.

An estimated 66,000 voters from ages 18 to 29 went to the polls this week. According to Abby Kiesa, news coordinator and researcher at the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) at Tufts University's Tisch College of Civic Life, the increase was driven by a 41 percent rise in youth participation in the Democratic primary. Although Hillary Clinton won with 52 percent of the overall vote, younger voters went overwhelmingly for Bernie Sanders.

"We saw 83 percent support Sen. Sanders and 17 percent support Secretary Clinton," Kiesa said, "which mirrors some of the higher levels of support that we've seen this primary season by young people."

Participation also was up in the Republican primary, but only by 3 precent, and the sample size was too small to estimate support for the individual candidates.

In 2008, the last time there were competitive primaries in both political parties, Kiesa said, the candidacy of Barack Obama drew out more young voters.

"It really raised the bar for records on youth engagement," she said, "and we've seen those records broken, almost across the board."

In 2012, Kiesa said, young voters helped give President Obama his margin of victory in several key states.

Now, with growing numbers of young people participating in the primaries, she says they're bound to be an influence in November.

"They've set records all over the place," she said, "and so, it'll be really important for candidates to really make an investment now in thinking about how they're going to reach out to young people."

More information is online at civicyouth.org.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - CT