The Changing Political World: How and Why Young People Vote


Despite the lack of consequences for not voting, many Americans do consider it a duty to participate in elections, with the exception of American youth, who have habitually failed to participate. In this study, the efficacy of contact among youth voters is studied as it relates to Election Day turnout and vote choice. Although political parties continue to exhaust vast resources on contact in an effort to mobilize the youth, it was not until the 2008 Presidential Election that American youth showed a significant increase in turnout. Rather than continue to expend resources on forms of contact that do not impact the cohort that most needs a method of mobilization, the useful forms can be identified and employed in the present and future. To determine which traditional form or forms of contact have the greatest positive impact on American youth, data from the 2008 American National Election Study is analyzed. In addition, to determine which new types of technology will most likely be useful in the future of youth mobilization, data was gathered from a sample set of 100 college students. The data from the 2008 ANES determined that Young Democrats were most highly affected by contact in terms of voter turnout. The affect of contact among young voters is to gain a larger portion of their vote than amongst older voters, but the Democratic Party stands out as the party most successful in doing so. Contact proved to have a positive effect on the people who need it least, those who already identify with a political party, and the least positive effect on those who need it most. Change in the methodology of contact alone will not be successful in getting these people to share their political beliefs, learn about candidates and parties, or even to vote on Election Day.


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Thesis Completion





Pollock, Phillip H.


Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)


College of Sciences

Degree Program

Political Science


Dissertations, Academic -- Sciences;Sciences -- Dissertations, Academic







Access Status

Open Access

Length of Campus-only Access


Document Type

Honors in the Major Thesis

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