| With young voter interest on the rise, how well did the parties represent young voters at the recent Republican and Democratic National Conventions? Youthiness: A DNC and RNC Convention Scorecard
September 22, 2008
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Youth voter turnout increased significantly this year in all caucuses and primary elections. According to data from the Center of Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) more than 6.5 million young people under the age of 30 participated–an increase from nine to 17 percent compared to 2004. Many of these new young voters anticipated participating and being heard at the recent Republican and Democratic National Conventions. But in an election where both major parties have younger candidates on their tickets, neither party did very well at including youth voices and issues at their gatherings.
After watching both conventions, Rock the Trail determined how well or poorly each party did in representing young voters. Below is a scorecard that ranks the RNC and DNC’s overall performance in youth outreach. The rankings were calculated by oberservational data, as well as examining speeches and attendance in real time as well as via text and video transcripts.
How Many Were There?
The first category we examined was how many young delegates were invited or attended each convention. Young voters represent one forth of the eligible voters, and of those 17 percent voted in the primary and caucuses this season. However, these voters only comprised 14.9 percent, or 631 total delegates at the DNCC. The RNCC by contrast, had a total of just 42 young delegates, which represents a mere 1.76 percent of the total number of delegates at their convention.
Activities For Young Activists
Convention activities for young people represent another way to show youth involvement. The DNCC sponsored events by both Young Democrats and College Democrats in the weekend and early days of the convention. College Democrats offered classes that assisted members in mobilization tactics, and campus organizing while the Young Democrats held events and breakfasts as well. DNC Youth Council held press conferences and keynote speeches with the chairman of their party, which earned them bonus points in our survey. There were a dozen or more activities hosted by other youth-focused groups like Rock the Vote, HeadCount, DoSomething, and more.
College Republican activities were limited to a service project, and activities that many of the STORM (the CR social networking group) attended. The total was probably a handfull including one that was put on by Patron Tequila and one from the Young Guns–the Republican equivalent of the 30Something Caucus. This is logical, however. If there aren’t many young delegates, or youth attendants, why have events that focus on them? Rock the Vote held an event the Sunday before the convention was scheduled to begin.