Rock the Vote worked to register and turn out young voters in Florida during this general election year, and in a press release issued Wednesday, the group states:
An angry, older electorate erased the Democratic majority last night, but the nation’s young voters – who buoyed the swell of participation in the historic 2008 races – emerged from the contests largely immune to the agenda driven by conservatives celebrating victories. According to exit poll data, under-30 voters were the only age demographic to vote for Democrats, with the youngest voters (18-24 year olds) giving Democrats a 19-point margin.
“Candidates in both parties failed to really engage young people in their races. Republicans failed to attract increased numbers of young voters, and it could have been a very different outcome for Democrats had their candidates implemented the lessons from 2008’s winning playbook,” said Rock the Vote President Heather Smith. “In the precincts where Rock the Vote and other groups invested in young people, we saw an increase in turnout. There was no ‘enthusiasm gap.’ It was a ‘leadership gap.’”
In a Rock the Vote August online survey with 300 Floridians (18 to 29 years of age) from across the state, 77 percent of respondents said they were likely to vote in the November 2010 midterm election.
Jobs and the economy, the budget deficit and education were the most important issues for survey participants. Gay rights, abortion and terrorism and security were also important.
The August survey (complete survey and analysis below) also showed that over 50 percent of participants, thought “things are moving in the wrong direction.”
Chrissy Faessen, RTV Vice President of Communications and Marketing told TFI, “we sent out a questionnaire to [Senate] candidates to get their position on issues relevant to young people, but only [Kendrick] Meek responded.
“We also reached out to all three Senate campaigns to organize a forum where they could talk with young voters. Meek and Crist showed interest but the Rubio camp never responded so we did not organize the forum.”
Another issue Faessen points to was the lack of engagement from candidates at the University of Florida where RTV focused its efforts.
“[Voter] Mobilization was student and Rock the Vote led. We saw a 45 percent increase of voters in that precinct when compared with 2006. RTV can point to other states where there was strong turnout compared to 2006 midterm elections.
“We use digital technologies, but can’t rely on a Facebook page, we knock on doors and talk with students. There is an opportunity for candidates to engage young people in an honest dialog.”