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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Ron Paul netted nearly half of the few young voters who turned out Tuesday

Participation among young voters plummeted in Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary, compared to the state’s 2008 primary, but nearly half of eligible voters younger than 30 who did show up to the polls threw their support behind Ron Paul.

Fifteen percent of eligible voters younger than 30 voted in Tuesday’s primary, according to a preliminary analysis by the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning & Engagement. The numbers had a chance to change slightly as 5 percent of precincts hadn’t reported results at the time the report was released early Wednesday morning.

That is compared to the 2008 Granite State primary, when 43 percent of voters under 30 cast ballots. Participation in the primary four years ago was higher than normal because it was an open field with no incumbent.

Among voters younger than 30 who did participate Tuesday, nearly half of their votes went to Texas congressman Paul. Paul, who came in second overall in the Republican primary, received 47 percent of young voter support, according to the data. Next closest was former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who got 25 percent of the support. Romney won the primary easily, getting 39 percent of the overall vote.

Given that Romney drew about the same share of young voters in 2012 as he did in 2008. It’s clear the block of young voters had an impact on Paul securing a second-place finish.

“Although young voters did not turn out at a particularly high rate, they did have an impact by concentrating their votes for Rep. Ron Paul, helping him come in second behind former Gov. Mitt Romney,” said CIRCLE Director Peter Levine in a press release. “Dr. Paul’s 47 percent support from 18- to 29-year-olds was the strongest level of support for any candidate by any age group.”

For comparison purposes, CIRCLE said 2012 and 2004 are the primaries that could be most easily looked at as equal because only one party had a competitive race during both years. In 2004, 18 percent of young voters turned out.

In 2000, when both parties were seeking new nominees similar to 2008, participation was 28 percent.

The total number of young voters in Tuesday’s Republican primary – approximately 29,000 – is comparable to the number of young people who voted for Barack Obama in the 2008 New Hampshire primary: 26,000.

Data on young voter participation among Democrats in Tuesday’s primary wasn’t available.

Michael Brindley can be reach at 594-6426 or mbrindley@nashuatelegraph.com.