The day after the November 2 presidential election, conservative radio host Laura Ingraham claimed on FOX News Channel's The O'Reilly Factor, "The youth voters turned out for [President George W.] Bush." Host Bill O'Reilly countered, "Well, they didn't turn out at all." Both were wrong. Young voters (aged 18-29) did turn out in significantly increased numbers, and they voted for Senator John Kerry over Bush by a margin of 54 percent to 44 percent.
The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE), a nonpartisan research group, found a 9.3 percent increase in voter turnout among 18- to 29-year-olds, based on national exit polls:
At least 20.9 million Americans under the age of 30 voted in 2004, an increase of 4.6 million over 2000, and the turnout rate among these voters rose from about 42.3% to 51.6%, a sharp rise of 9.3 percentage points. ... In the ten most contested states, youth turnout was 64%, up 13 percentage points from 2000.
Unlike in 2000, when the youth vote was split almost evenly between Bush and then-Vice President Al Gore (48 percent to 46 percent), voters under 30 voted for Kerry by a margin of 54 percent to 44 percent nationwide and by 20 percentage points in California, according to a November 3 Knight Ridder Newspapers report.