Political Partisanship, Extreme Polarization and Youth Voter Turnout in 2020

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Penn Journal of Philosophy, Politics & Economics
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Political Partisanship
Voter Turnout
Political Engagement
American Politics
Applied Ethics
Behavioral Economics
Economic Policy
Education Policy
Energy Policy
Environmental Policy
Ethics and Political Philosophy
Experimental Analysis of Behavior
Health Policy
International Economics
International Relations
Political Science
Political Theory
Public Policy
Social Policy
Social Psychology
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The 2010s saw a rapid increase in political partisanship and subsequent extreme polarization in the United States and its political institutions and systems. Additionally, political apathy among young adult and teenage voters has long been beleaguered as a source of low voter turnout in the United States, at least comparatively when considering other developed democracies. Considering these points, this research paper seeks to identify whether rising political partisanship and extreme polarization affect the disillusionment of teenage voters in the political process of voting; do these phenomena discourage eligible teenagers from exercising their right to vote? Previous research on the effect of extreme polarization and partisanship on voting trends focuses on the voting eligible population (VEP) as a whole, with no studies concerning the teenage (18-19) voting demographic specifically. The vast majority of such studies have concluded that increases in the aforementioned phenomena are correlated with higher voter turnout, suggesting possible causation. In conducting subject interviews with fifteen eligible teenagers who voted in the 2020 presidential election, content and correlational analyses were used to identify whether this trend was similarly present among youth voters. The resulting study found that, in line with the VEP as a whole, teenage voters cited an increased likelihood to vote as a result of increasing partisanship and polarization within the political climate, suggesting a positive correlation. Positive statistical correlations were noted between the perceived levels of polarization and the phenomenon’s influence on the likelihood to vote, as well as between partisanship and the same effect. The results of this research imply that voter turnout efforts have no cause to especially focus on youth voters in regard to polarization. Instead, charged political climates will increase youth turnout as they do with the VEP as a whole, suggesting that as polarization persists in the United States, there will be a concurrent increased political engagement among youth voters.

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