Voters place their ballots in the gymnasium at Saint Philip AME church on Super Tuesday in Atlanta.
Tami Chappell—AFP/Getty Images
By Daniel White
March 2, 2016

Respective front-runners Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump may have scored some big victories on Super Tuesday but both have a problem—young voters are choosing other candidates, according to exit poll data.

Some 1.8 million 18 to 29-year-olds turned out to vote yesterday, with some states experiencing participation levels that rivaled the historic 2008 election, according to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University.

Turnout was higher among Democrats than Republicans, an estimated one million to around 900,000. Young voters may prove critical to Trump and Clinton as they try to square away their respective nominations.

Much like previous contests this year, Republican front-runner Trump did not see the same level of support among young voters as he did with older voters. In two close races—Arkansas and Virginia—young voters chose Rubio or Cruz over Trump. The same applies to Texas, which Cruz won.

Among Democrats, young people supported Bernie Sanders over Clinton to varying degrees. Sanders received over 80% of the youth vote in Vermont and Oklahoma, two states he won. Most other states he carried with two-thirds of young voters. In Georgia and Alabama, states which CIRCLE says have a large African-American youth population, Sanders did not perform as well.

Overall youth turnout in this election cycle rivals the very high turnout in 2008, according to CIRCLE. Compared to 2008, estimated turnout was up among young people in Alabama, Oklahoma, Virginia and Arkansas. CIRCLE gained prominence in 2008 thanks to it’s tracking and analysis of that year’s energized youth turnout, which helped carry Barack Obama to the White House.

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