Grinnell In The News

Assistant Professor Doug Hess Examines Youth Voting Trends

Doug Hess is quoted in a story about young voters that appeared in the Press Enterprise in Southern California titled California teens are pre-registering in droves. But will they actually vote?

“Turnout among young voters usually lags behind 44- to 64-year-olds in presidential elections by 20 to 24 percentage points,” said Doug Hess, assistant professor of political science at Grinnell College in Iowa. In mid-terms, he added, the gap is 30 points or more.

The current momentum behind voter turnout, Hess said, reminds him of 2000 and 2004, when turnout by 18- to 24-year-old voters rose 9 percent.

“That increase was greater than the increase in other age groups at that time,” he said.

But young voter turnout for the 2014 mid-terms, he added, was the lowest in decades.

“In the end, it all depends not only on the mobilization of youth, but also on the level of support or dissatisfaction of Trump voters,” Hess said.

“If those past (Trump) supporters sit November out, or vote against Republican members of Congress, a return to the youth engagement of a decade ago could be powerful.”