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Young people were engaged throughout the 2016 presidential election cycle, from the primaries to the general election, despite the fact that their preferred candidates did not prevail. On the Democratic side, they powered Bernie Sanders' formidable challenge for that party's nomination, overwhelmingly supporting him in his race against the eventual nominee, Hillary Clinton. On the Republican side, Donald Trump for most of the primary Donald Trump was not young voters' preferred candidate, but he nonetheless won—as he did in the general election despite only winning just over a third of youth.

Explore our most important data, analysis, and commentary on the 2016 election:

Quick Facts

  • Youth Turnout: We estimate that 46.1% of eligible young voters (ages 18-29) cast a ballot in 2016, a similar youth turnout rate to our 45% estimate in 2012. Note: The 46% estimate, calculated using more reliable data not available immediately after the election, replaces an earlier estimate of 50% youth turnout.
  • Youth Choice: 55% of young people voted for Hillary Clinton, while 37% supported Donald Trump. The remaining 8% of youth voted for a third-party candidate or did not cast a ballot for president.Nationally, young people favored Democratic candidates for the House of Representatives by 55% to 40%
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Latest 2016 Research

Major 2016 Research Areas

The Candidates and the General Election

The 2016 presidential election gave young people two starkly different choices. Through exclusive CIRCLE polling and other data, we sought to understand how young people felt about the presidential race, and about Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump as candidates. We also explored how young people felt after an election in which a candidate that they had overwhelmingly rejected at the polls nonetheless prevailed.

Hard-Fought Primaries in Both Parties

CIRCLE provided extensive data and analysis of youth participation in both parties' primaries, including exclusive youth turnout estimates for every state in which data was available. We also focused particular demographic factors in the youth electorate that may have shaped the results in key primaries, and we highlighted educational and outreach efforts in several states by organizations that used the election to promote broader youth civic engagement.

The Role of Race, Gender, and Education

Both throughout the primaries and in the general election, young people were often sharply divided in their support by educational attainment and, especially, by race/ethnicity and gender. Our analyses sought to explore and understand these differences, both in terms what they meant for specific candidates and election results, and what they can tell us how young people with different identities and experiences are approaching politics and civic life.

2016 Research in the News

Dissecting the Youth Vote

The Atlantic
The Atlantic features our analysis in this feature about young people's engagement in and reaction to the election.