As voters go to the polls today one thing is certain: The votes of women and young people will be key in choosing the next president.
According to the Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP) at Rutgers University, the gender gap–which measures the difference between women’s and men’s support for a candidate or views on an issue–will be evident nationally as well as in the battleground states. “There will be significant gender gaps in key Congressional race and in the state ballot measures. In the Presidential race no question a majority of women will vote for Obama. And there will be a significant gender gap in key battleground states,” said Eleanor Smeal, president of FMF and the first political analyst to identify the gender gap in 1980.
In final polling of the young people’s vote by Democracy Corps/Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, Obama leads McCain by a margin of 62 to 27 percent. John Kerry also won the young people’s vote four years ago, but his margin of 54 to 45 was smaller. He also lost the vote of white people under 30 by a margin of 44 to 55 percent, while Obama leads in that category 51 to 38 percent.
Both the turnout rate (percentage of eligible voters casting ballots) and hard number of ballots cast is likely to increase among the young people’s electorate this year, according to DailyKos blogger Michael Connerly, an expert on youth voter issues. He points out that voting by young people has been increasing since 2004, helped along by concentrated efforts to get those voters registered. “When young people are registered to vote,” writes Connerly, “they turn out.”