It is easy to get young people riled up, as William F. Buckely points out. The Dean house parties, rallies, $2 donations, etc., are the kinds of things young people like to do. And there is no doubt that Dean has energized a particular demographic group, namely, the 18- to 24-year-old folk.
Last week, Dr. Dean warned the DNC chairman that, if the other Democrat candidates don’t stop attacking Dean, Dean’s supporters might not vote at all come November 2004. During his season of being wrong about everything, Dean may have accidentally stumbled onto some correct thinking regarding his supporters’ propensity to vote.
According to the U. S. Census Bureau, Dean’s strongest support group, 18 to 24, is the least likely to actually show up at the polls and vote. In the latest available figures, we find that 40% of those between the ages of 18 and 24 are registered to vote, but only about 16% go to the polls. (Perhaps if they served beer.) Worse for Dean, who polls better among women than among men, is the absence of a gender gap in these stats. Only 17% of women 18 to 24 show up, while 15% of men vote. Overall, 62% of people over 18 are registered voters, and 42% vote. The most consistent age group for voting is 65 to 74 years at 63%. Moreover, as the population ages, men become more likely to vote than women.
While Dean is probably correct that his supporters won’t vote if Dean is not the candidate, his supporters probably won’t vote even if he is.