Politics

How Many Are Planning to Vote for the First Time?

First-time voters most likely to be aged 18 to 29, prefer Kerry to Bush

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- Political parties and independent groups believe that new voters -- including younger Americans who are eligible to vote for the first time, new citizens, and those who simply chose not to vote in previous elections -- will turn out in droves on Election Day this year. There have also been numerous media campaigns to register these new voters -- whether it be "Vote or Die" slogans or "20 Million Loud" ads. But how many first-time voters will there be in this year's presidential election?

A recent Gallup Poll, conducted Oct. 11-14, finds that 12% of registered voters say this will be the first time they have voted in a presidential election. The vast majority of voters, 85%, say they have previously voted in a presidential election and plan to cast a ballot in the 2004 presidential election. Among all adults in the country, 11% say they will vote this year for the first time, while 73% say they will vote this year and that they have voted in a previous presidential election. Another 16% of all adults say they are either not planning to vote or that they are not registered.

First-Time Potential Voters Likely to Be Young

Gallup finds that by far, first-time potential voters are most likely to be under age 30. A slight majority of registered 18- to 29-year-old voters (51%) say they will be first-time voters, compared with 9% of registered 30- to 49-year-old voters, and just 1% of registered voters aged 50 and older. Among the overall sample of all adults nationwide, 39% of 18- to 29-year-olds say they will be first-time voters, compared with only 7% among the 30- to 49-year-old group, and 1% among people 50 and older.

Among the sample of registered voters who say this is the first presidential election in which they are voting, 67% are in the 18-to-29 age group, 28% are aged 30 to 49, 3% are between the ages of 50 and 64, and 2% are aged 65 and older.

Other Demographic Differences

There are some minor variations among this group of first-time voters by race, education, income, and partisanship. There are essentially no differences by gender, region, or political ideology.

  • Nonwhites are just slightly more likely than non-Hispanic whites to be first-time voters.

  • Registered voters with less education are more likely to be first-time voters than are those with higher levels of education.

  • Registered voters in lower-income households are more likely to be first-time voters than are those in higher-income households.

  • There are essentially no differences in first-time voting between registered Republicans and registered Democrats, although registered independents are somewhat more likely to be first-time voters.

 

First-Time Voting by Demographic Subgroups
based on registered voters
Oct 11-14, 2004

 

 

 

 

 


First-time voters

Voted for president before


Not planning
to vote

 

%

%

%

Education

 

 

 

Postgraduate

3

97

--

College graduate

5

94

1

Some college

17

80

3

High school or less

16

79

5

 

 

 

 

Income

 

 

 

$50,000 or more per year

9

90

1

Less than $50,000 per year

16

79

5

 

 

 

 

Partisanship

 

 

 

Republicans

8

91

1

Independents

18

77

5

Democrats

10

86

4

 

 

 

 

Race

 

 

 

Whites

11

87

2

Nonwhites

20

74

6

 

 

 

 

Gender

 

 

 

Men

13

84

3

Women

11

86

3

 

 

 

 

Region

 

 

 

East

11

87

2

Midwest

13

85

2

South

13

81

6

West

12

88

*

 

 

 

 

Ideology

 

 

 

Conservative

11

86

3

Moderate

11

86

3

Liberal

17

80

3

 

 

 

 

* Less than 0.5%



Vote Preference

It is unclear just how many Americans who say they expect to vote for the first time this year will actually do so. If they follow through on their intentions, the data (though limited) suggest it could be a boost for Sen. John Kerry. The Oct. 11-14 survey found the senator ahead of President George W. Bush among these potential new voters by 50% to 35%, with Ralph Nader receiving 3% support. However, given the small sample of first-time voters in the poll, Kerry's lead over Bush in this group is not statistically significant. Among all registered voters, the contest was essentially tied, with 46% for Kerry, 44% for Bush, and 1% for Nader. Gallup has conducted additional polling since the Oct. 11-14 survey with more recent trends for the presidential contest.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews with 1,012 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Oct. 11-14, 2004. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points.

For results based on the sample of 910 registered voters, the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points.

For results based on the sample of 109 registered voters who say this will be the first presidential election in which they will be voting, the maximum margin of sampling error is ±10 percentage points.

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

Gallup http://www.gallup.com/poll/13744/How-Many-Planning-Vote-First-Time.aspx Gallup World Headquarters, 901 F Street, Washington, D.C., 20001, U.S.A +1 202.715.3030