Nonprofit, independent journalism. Supported by readers.


Youth vote’s overwhelming opposition doomed marriage and voting amendments

MPIRG advocacy group’s analysis found the young far more opposed than all state voters — 26 points on marriage amendment and 15 on voting measure. 

Youth in Minnesota voted in record numbers Tuesday.
MinnPost photo by Bill Kelley

A few months ago, some Minnesota progressives could be heard fretting about Barack Obama’s seeming failure to energize and mobilize young voters this year the way his campaign did in 2008. A low youth turnout would be felt ballot-wide.

In the end, the president’s ever-more-sophisticated voter targeting operation did rouse new voters, but in Minnesota, the two proposed constitutional amendments also contributed, according to numbers crunched by the grass-roots student advocacy group Minnesota Public Interest Research Group (MPIRG).

Youth in Minnesota voted in record numbers Tuesday, and overwhelmingly against both amendments, according to MPIRG’s tabulations.

Some 79 percent voted against the proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and 69 percent voted against the proposed voting amendment, compared with 54 percent of the state voting no on the marriage amendment and 52 on the voting measure. (These totals include voters who left their ballots unmarked on the questions, effectively voting no.)

Article continues after advertisement

“This represents a substantial generational divide,” the group said Thursday in a statement. “As both amendments failed on such narrow margins, it is clear that students were a deciding factor.”

How do they know? They plugged raw numbers from 24 precincts on or adjacent to college campuses, including the nine where MPIRG is active, into a spreadsheet, which they then compared with ’08’s tallies.  

At three Minneapolis precincts drawing mostly University of Minnesota students, turnout was up: 2-4 saw an increase of 8.1 percent; 2-10 (the old 2-11) saw a 2.7 percent bump and Dinkytown’s 3-1 drew an increase of 8.3 percent. 

Opposition to the amendments was softest precisely in the Greater Minnesota regions where one would expect, at St. Cloud State University and St. John’s University and at the Minnesota States in Mankato and Moorhead.

MPIRG analysis shows youth vote key to amendments’ defeat

The youth vote’s opposition exceeded state averages by 26 points on the marriage amendment and 15 points on the voting amendment, according to the advocacy group’s analysis of 24 college-area voting precincts.
PrecinctCollege% No marriage% No voter ID
   W-03 P-07Minnesota State University – Mankato65.8858.21
   W-05 P-06Minnesota State University – Mankato72.8556.11
   W-2 P-5AConcordia College73.255.71
   W-3 P-6AMinnesota State University – Moorhead78.260.35
   W-2 P-03Dinktytown82.2880.63
   W-2 P-04Dinktytown87.7376.72
   W-2 P-07Dinktytown83.3981.68
   W-2 P-10UoM – TC81.3468.29
   W-3 P-01UoM – TC84.3471.63
   W-3 P-02Augsburg87.7880.67
St. Peter
   W-2 P-1Gustavus Adolphus College78.5469.94
St. Paul
   W-3 P-07Macalester93.1189.09
   W-4 P-06St Kate’s71.2260.07
   W-4 P-13Hamline76.0775.33
   W-1 P-1Carleton College95.2390.47
   W-4 P-2St Olaf89.8182.27
   P-10UoM – Duluth76.3269.37
   P2Saint John’s University72.2656.53
St. Cloud
   W1 P1St Cloud State University76.1860.96
   W1 P3St Cloud State University73.2460.56
   W1 P7St Cloud State University60.7557.91
   P-2BUoM – Morris79.4675.05
   W-3 P-1Winona State University73.5255.45
Average all college pcts78.869.3
Statewide average52.453.6
Source: Minnesota Public Interest Research Group