Almost 70,000 West Virginians between the ages of 17 and 29 voted in the West Virginia Democratic and Republican primaries this year, a notable increase on previous years.
An organization called, “CIRCLE” (The Center For Information & Research On Civic Learning And Engagement), has been tracking the civic acumen of America’s youth and their voting habits, in an effort to improve both. For more information, visit: civicyouth.org/2016nebraskawestvirginiaprimaries
In a report released by CIRCLE after the primary election, it was reported that an impressive 69,000 (25 percent) of West Virginians in this age bracket turned out to vote, surpassing the states of Florida (17 percent), Iowa (11 percent), and Virginia (18 percent), while lagging behind Wisconsin (33 percent) and New Hampshire (43 percent).
Young voter turnout for split evenly between the two parties, with 35,000+ voting on the Democrat ballot and 33,000+ on the Republican ballot.
Seventy percent of young Democratic primary voters casted ballots in support of Hillary Clinton, with 25 percent supporting the eventual winner of West Virginia’s Democratic nomination, Bernie Sanders.
On the Republican side, 63 percent of young voters supported GOP front runner Donald Trump. Despite the fact that Trump is the only presidential candidate remaining in the Republican nominating pool, young voters still casted ballots for candidates who had officially suspended their campaigns—12 percent voted for Ted Cruz and 6 percent for John Kasich.
It is interesting to note that 19 percent of young voters in West Virginia’s Republican primary fell into the “other/no answer” category, making young people the largest age group to provide such a response.
Without any doubt, young voters are the future of West Virginia politics, and we can only hope to see continued growth in West Virginia’s voting youth in the future.