Who Are Americans? Interactive Exercises


Who Made Up the Electorate in 2012?

Voting rates vary substantially by age, race, education, and income. If Americans from some groups have more of a say in who gets elected, they effectively have more of a say in government and what policies get passed. In virtually every election, older Americans are more likely to vote than younger Americans, and college graduates are more likely to vote than those with less education. Americans with higher incomes also turn out in greater numbers than those with lower incomes.

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1. What percentage of the 2012 electorate was made up by 18- to 29-year-olds?
What percentage of the 2012 electorate was made up by 45- to 64-year-olds?
Consider the second image, which shows voting by education level. Which group of eligible voters made up the highest percentage of voters in 2012?
Out of 2012 voters, what percentage has a postgraduate degree?
Which groups made up the highest percentages of voters in 2012? Which groups made up the lowest percentages? How might this affect whose interests are represented in government?
Over the past three presidential elections, the electorate has included fewer and fewer whites as a percentage of total voters. What does this mean for future presidential candidates?

The Pew Research Center has released a report focused on youth voters in the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections. You will find information on what percentage of those 18- to 29-year-olds who are eligible to vote actually registered and voted in the 2008 and 2012 elections. You can also see data breaking the youth into more specific demographic categories.

What percentage of all 18- to 29-year-old voters supported Obama in 2008 and 2012?
Among the 18–29 years old population, who did women support?

Now look at the graph titled “Age Gap in Voting Preferences.” The red line represents 18- to 29-year-old voters. The blue line represents voters age 30 and older in the United States. How do young voters compare to the 30 and older population?

9. Has young voter turnout increased or decreased over time?
What factors influence whether young voters vote? Should candidates be concerned with increasing the number of young people who vote? Why or why not?

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