Last night was a wild one, and the excitement might just be beginning. A number of races look like they will go to a recount and control of the House of Delegates is hanging in the balance.
But let’s set all that aside for a moment, forget about Ds and Rs, and talk about turnout. Specifically, young voter turnout.
Our great friends at VPAP measure voter turnout by looking at precincts which are predominantly composed of certain demographic groups; in our case, we will be looking at young voters. By looking at turnout data in these precincts, you can extrapolate to the rest of the state how these demographic groups performed. It’s not an exact science, but it’s a good way to estimate what’s going on among different kinds of voters.
Tl;dr: Let’s look at how young voters turned out last night. First, college students:
In 2013, just 26.2% of college student voters showed up to this polls based on these estimates. Last night, it was 34.6%! To put it in raw numbers, there are about 550,000 college students in Virginia. If we estimate that 65% of them are registered to vote here, that brings us to 357,500 registered college students. That means the increase from 26.2% to 34.6% would be over 30,000 voters. That’s a 32% increase.
Next, let’s take a look at predominately millennial precincts. These are precincts where voters under 40 years old make up at least 60% of registered voters
In 2013, an estimated 31.5% of millennial voters showed up to vote. Last night, it was up to 39%. Again, to put it in raw numbers: there are roughly 2,000,000 millennials in Virginia. If we estimate that 65% of them are registered to vote, that brings us to 1,300,000 millennial voters. That would mean from 2013 to 2017, we saw an increase of 97,500 millennial voters. Nearly 100,000 NEW voters. That’s about a 24% increase!
These numbers are incredible, and they are really encouraging. Young people saw bigger increases in participation than any other demographic group. This is a testament to the great work by Virginia21 students and other young people around the state to register their peers and create a culture that values political participation.
As we have become the largest voting bloc in Virginia, millennials have also decided it’s time to start showing up at the polls in force. Several elections from all over the state will come down to a couple hundred votes or fewer, and whichever way they turn out, we will have had a major say in the outcome.