An increasing percentage of young voters plan to cast their ballots on Nov. 6, according to a new poll released by the Tufts University Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, or CIRCLE.

The survey, commissioned by the Youth Education Fund, polled 1,695 youth ages 18 to 29 in June and July and 1,109 of the same youth between Oct. 12 and 23, and found evidence of changing attitudes toward the election.

“The racial and ethnic group breakout shows that there is a rise in intent to vote among the three groups whom we polled in large numbers, with an impressive three-quarters of Black youth intending to vote,” said CIRCLE director Peter Levine.

Among those polled, 68.7 percent of White youth and 56.6 percent of Hispanic youth say they will cast their ballots next Tuesday.

Among extremely likely young voters, an increasing number said they were throwing their support behind President Obama—though less so among White youth compared to their Latino or African counterparts.

Since July, Obama has seen a 5.2 percent increase in support among White youth (33.8 to 39.0 percent); a 10.8 percent increase among Black youth (82.4 to 93.2 percent) and a 14.3 percent increase among Hispanic youth (46.6 to 60.9 percent).

Conversely, between June/July and October, Romney has lost both African-American voters (5 percentage point loss from 9.3 to 4.5 percent), and especially Hispanic voters (17 percentage point loss from 37.5 to 20.3 percent). He gained among young White voters, seeing an increase of 2.1 percentage points from 44.1 to 46.2 percent.

On a whole, young voters seemed to be more and more engaged—though most said they had not benefitted from outreach from the presidential campaigns—with their top concerns being jobs and the economy, health care and the deficit.

According to the poll, young people, regardless of race and ethnicity, were most likely to say they had been paying “some” attention to the upcoming election compared to June and July. Black and White youth are the most likely to say they pay “some or a lot of attention” to the news (72.9 percent and 72.4 percent, respectively), while 66.8 percent of Hispanic youth said the same. However, there is a strong core of Hispanic youth who follow the election with 27.7 paying “a lot” of attention (compared to White youth (23.4 percent) and Black youth (19.4 percent)).

Young voters were instrumental in the 2008 election, turning out in large numbers and voting overwhelmingly—two-thirds—for Obama. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, voters 18 to 24 were the only age group to show a statistically significant increase in turnout, reaching 49 percent in 2008 compared with 47 percent in 2004.

Zenitha Prince

Special to the AFRO