The Youth Vote, Explained in Deep Detail

The youth vote at work.Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal via ZUMA

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.

What’s with the youth vote, anyway? Every four years the kids seem really excited, but then they don’t turn out to vote. What’s going on?

The answer is surprisingly simple. When we think of the “youth vote,” the image that almost certainly pops into your mind is a 20-year-old college student wearing a Bernie cap and leading campus rallies against sexual violence. They care about social justice, climate change, and trans rights. But even if college students vote in large numbers, they make up only a small percentage of the 18-29 population. There are roughly 17 million undergrads enrolled in two- and four-year colleges right now, compared to a total population of 54 million. That’s 30 percent.

The other 70 percent are all working stiffs. You won’t see them in the pictures used to illustrate stories about “what young people are thinking today,” but they constitute by far the biggest share of this demographic—and to put it gently, they probably care about different things than your typical university undergrad. This is the real youth vote, and that makes them the voters we need to target. But do we?

TIME IS RUNNING OUT!

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and it's truly crunch time: About 15 percent of our yearly online giving usually comes in during the final week of the year, and in "No Cute Headlines or Manipulative BS," we explain why we simply can't afford to come up short right now.

The bottom line: Corporations and powerful people with deep pockets will never sustain the type of journalism Mother Jones exists to do. And advertising or profit-driven ownership groups will never make time-intensive, in-depth reporting viable.

That's why donations big and small make up 74 percent of our budget this year. There is no backup to keep us going, no alternate revenue source, no secret benefactor. If readers don’t donate, we won’t be here. It's that simple.

And if you can help us out with a donation right now, all online gifts will be matched thanks to an incredibly generous matching gift pledge.

payment methods

TIME IS RUNNING OUT!

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and it's truly crunch time: About 15 percent of our yearly online giving usually comes in during the final week of the year, and in "No Cute Headlines or Manipulative BS," we explain why we simply can't afford to come up short right now.

The bottom line: Corporations and powerful people with deep pockets will never sustain the type of journalism Mother Jones exists to do. And advertising or profit-driven ownership groups will never make time-intensive, in-depth reporting viable.

That's why donations big and small make up 74 percent of our budget this year. There is no backup to keep us going, no alternate revenue source, no secret benefactor. If readers don’t donate, we won’t be here. It's that simple.

And if you can help us out with a donation right now, all online gifts will be matched thanks to an incredibly generous matching gift pledge.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate