President-elect Barack Obama's 34-point margin of victory with voters under 30 was the largest in a generation, cut across lines of class, color and education—and the most impressive youth mandate in modern American history, according to an exclusive Politico analysis.
Sixty-six percent of voters under age 30 preferred Obama while just 32 percent favored McCain—nearly four times the size of John F. Kennedy's lead with the group in 1960, which led him to famously declare in his inaugural address that “the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans.”
While Lyndon Johnson also won the under-thirty vote by a two-to-one ratio in 1964, he did so as a sitting president, who crushed Barry Goldwater by some 22 points in the national popular vote, which Obama won this year by just six points.
In other words, never in post-war American politics have youth voted so differently than older generations as they did in 2008.
Obama lead with the group this year is easily the largest of any newly elected president in the era of modern polling.
Sixty percent of all new voters this year were under age 30, according to a report by Tuft’s Tisch College Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, or CIRCLE.
Until this election, no Democratic presidential nominee had won more than 45 percent of young whites in at least three decades. Obama won 54 percent of young white voters.
The youth vote made up 18 percent of the electorate this year, one point more than in the last three presidential elections. Young whites this year constituted 11 percent of the electorate, and young blacks and Hispanics 3 percent each.
Seventy-six percent of young Hispanic vote preferred Obama, as compared to 67 percent of the overall Hispanic vote. That marks a 14-point rise in young Hispanic support for the Democratic candidate since the previous election, and a 10-point improvement with the Hispanic population overall.
Fifty-two or 53 percent of eligible youth turned out to vote, marking at least a four percentage-point rise since 2004 by CIRCLE’s tally, continuing an upward trend in youth turnout since 2000—and the highest percentage since 1992.
While during the primaries, Obama’s white youth support was mostly limited to the college educated, he bested McCain among white youth without a college degree by 52-45 percent, while winning those with a degree by 57-41 percent. Remarkably, he did this even while McCain won with whites of all ages without a degree by 58-40 percent.
Obama won precisely half of all young working class white men, ten points better than any Democrat since the Reagan era.
Obama won among young white women without a degree by 54 to 45 percent, the first time a Democrat had more than 50 percent support from this group in the post Reagan era. His highest level of support from young whites came from college-educated women, who backed him by 61 to 38 percent.
While Obama won only 24 percent of white evangelicals, a slight improvement from Kerry's 21 percent, 32 percent of young white evangelicals supported him, double the 16 percent who backed Kerry.