With a final round of polls showing a surge from former Vice President Joe Biden heading into Super Tuesday voting, current front-runner Bernie Sanders has been counting on a heavy turnout by young voters to lift him to a significant delegate lead. But according to early exit polls, the Vermont senator’s hopes appear to be falling flat across — at least in 12 of the 14 states casting ballots — on March 3.
According to results from the NBC News exit poll released at around 5 p.m. EST on Tuesday — two hours before the first poll closings in eastern states — only 13 percent of Democratic voters in the Super Tuesday primaries are between the ages of 18 and 29. That is 10 percentage points fewer than the second-least likely voters — the 30-44 age group, which made up 23 percent of Tuesday’s electorate, according to the NBC News poll.
The exit poll was conducted across all of the Super Tuesday voting states barring Utah and Arkansas. The results showed that the largest segment of the Democratic electorate was made up of voters between the ages of 45 and 64, at 35 percent. Voters 65 years old and above made up 29 percent of those who turned out.
The statistics for the youngest voting bloc on Super Tuesday remained consistent with young voter turnout in the previous two primary elections of the 2020 campaign season, according to CNN exit polling data.
In the New Hampshire primary, won by Sanders, young voters made up 13 percent of the turnout — virtually identical to the early Super Tuesday poll findings. In South Carolina, where Biden won in a landslide, the youngest voting demographic made up only 11 percent.
Iowa held a caucus — a different process than straightforward voting — and in that state, the youth vote made up about one in every four caucus-goers, at 24 percent, according to the CNN exit poll. But despite the higher youth vote turnout, Sanders placed a close second to Pete Buttigieg — who has since dropped out of the race and thrown his endorsement to Biden.
Sanders won the Nevada caucus, where young voters made up 17 percent of the turnout.
The lagging youth vote could be a warning sign for Sanders, who, according to a Washington Post analysis, has simply seen lower support overall than he received in the 2016 Democratic primary, when he opposed eventual nominee Hillary Clinton.
In New Hampshire –the one primary that Sanders has won outright before Tuesday — he received 76,000 fewer votes than in 2016, according to the Post analysis. In Nevada, popular vote numbers were not available, but in the caucus, Sanders’ support declined 13 percent from 2016.