Agitator confesses to being asleep at the switch back in October when The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE, funded by Pew and Carnegie) released its massive study on the civic and political engagement of youth (ages 15-25).

CIRCLE's 2006 National Civic and Political Health Survey is a massive treasury of data looking at 19 core measures of involvement (in categories of civic activity, electoral participation, and “political voice” — making views known), as well as attitudes toward government, levels of political knowledge, partisanship, and views on elections and politics. All of the study materials, including the full analysis, survey toplines and a good Powerpoint presentation are available at CIRCLE's website.

Some highlights:

    • 24% of young people have raised money for a cause or charity
    • 35% have tried to persuade others in an election
    • 36% have volunteered and 30% have boycotted a product or company
    • 17% are “electoral specialists” (meaning at least two activities in the category), 12% are “civic specialists”, 13% are “dual activists” (two activities or more in two categories)
    • 7% qualify as “hyper-engaged” participating in 10 or more of the 19 categories — this group tends to be urban, Democratic, and from college-educated homes (Agitator thinks these are the kids of your donors!)
    • African-American (electoral) and Asian-American (civic) youth are the most engaged
    • Youth segment is 47% Dems, 28% Reps, and 24% Indies
    • 63% believe government should do more to solve problems, but a plurality (47%) say government is “almost always wasteful and inefficient”

This report and its supporting materials provide huge insight into the civic and political behavior and mindset of today's 15-25 year old population. Check it out.

Significant numbers of these “kids” are fundraising now, volunteering now, advocating now, using their buying power to send a message … NOW!

Separately, CIRCLE estimates that 10 million youth under 30 years old voted in the 2006 midterm, representing 13% of all midterm voters. This represented a 24% turnout, up 2 million from 20% in 2002 midterm.

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