Young Voters Push Participation in 2008 to 49 percent

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Young voters - specifically blacks and Hispanics - were the only demographic group to show a significantly higher voting percentage in the 2008 presidential election, according to statistics released Monday by the U.S. Census Bureau.  

The Census Bureau's random population survey results show nearly 49 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds showed up at the polls last Nov. 4, up from roughly 47 percent in 2004.

Among the youngest voters, blacks had the highest turnout rate at more than 55 percent, an 8 percent jump from 2004, and Hispanic turnout increased from 33 percent in 2004 to nearly 39 percent in 2008. To be sure, the turnout increases in young Blacks and Hispanics reflected similar spikes seen across all age groups of blacks and Hispanics. In all, two million more blacks of all ages voted in last year's election; two million more Hispanics and 600,000 more Asians.

Despite the increases, 18- to 24-year-olds remained at the bottom of the voter-turnout-by-age-group rankings - trailing the first-place 65 and older population by 21 percentage points. But youth voters did their part to narrow the gap, especially when considering the three older age groups actually showed minor decreases in turnout last year, ranging from 0.1 to 1.2 percent, compared with 2004.

Overall, the percentage of eligible voters who participated in last year's election remained essentially the same as 2004 : 64 percent.