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Rock the Vote News: We Did It!

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Rock the Vote
Hi Friend,

We did it. After two years, millions of voter registrations, a cross-country bus tour, dozens of star-studded concerts, hundreds of volunteers, and a spirited contest between two worthy candidates, the 2008 election is finally behind us and we can now say:

On November 4, 2008, more young people voted than in any election in U.S. history.

Read on for more about what happened on Election Day, a wrap-up of Rock the Vote’s 2008 campaign, and info on what we’ve got planned next.

Rock on,
Heather Smith
Executive Director

11.04.08: Record Number of Young Voters!Students in Line in PAOn November 4th, 2008, young people proved their power at the polls with strong turnout.  According to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE): 


  • An estimated 23 million 18-29 year olds voted on November 4th, an increase of 3 million voters over 2004 and the most 18-29 year olds to ever vote in a presidential election.


  • Youth turnout rose to between 52 and 53 percent, the highest turnout in the 18-29 year old demographic since 18-20 year olds first won the right to vote in 1972.
Student with Be Cause Poster

According to exit polls, 18-29 year olds were a larger portion of the electorate (18%) than voters 65 and older (16%) for the first time in twenty years, and they voted heavily in favor of Barack Obama for president (66% to 32%). Both their numbers and ballot choices had a significant impact on the election, particularly in tight states like North Carolina and Indiana.

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We’re not the only ones that have noticed this youth movement. Check out just a few of the news stories about the 2008 youth vote:

MSNBC: Young voter turnout likely sets new record

Associated Press: Voter turnout best in generations, maybe a century

Financial Times: A New Generation Transforms American Politics

Philadelphia Inquirer: More young people cast their ballots

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Politico: Obama has historic youth mandate

U.S. News and World Report: Young voters powered Obama’s victory while shrugging off slacker image

The 2008 Campaign: RTV-Style

Road Trip BusRock the Vote ran a historic campaign to engage young people in the political process this year, and it paid off. We used the latest technology and person-to-person contact to mobilize hundreds of thousands of voters and more than 700 volunteers around the country. Millions visited our website, attended our rallies, received our text messages, and volunteered with our Street Teams - and on Election Day, they voted.

  • 2.6 million people downloaded Rock the Vote’s online voter registration form through our website or one of our 23,000 voter registration partners, more than doubling our numbers from 2004. Partners like CNN, Facebook, and Comcast, dedicated artists from Christina Aguilera to N*E*R*D, programs like DemROCKracy, the Ultimate College Bowl, and Radio Rocks the Vote, and energized volunteers from coast to coast helped make our goal of 2 million registrations in 2008 a reality.


  • The Road Trip ’08 bus made stops in 16 states that involved 23 artists, including Solange, Eve, Murs, Taleb Kweli, Sheryl Crow, the Beastie Boys, Jack Johnson, Norah Jones, Tenacious D, Santogold, Ben Stiller, Ben Harper, and more to promote our registration and education efforts and encourage early voting.  The tour made at least two stops each day at campuses and communities, from rallies at Virginia Union in Richmond, VA to an early vote caravan with Bow Wow at Cleveland State University. Stiller and Beasties


  • In the final two weeks of the campaign, we held 21 early vote events in target states and 36 in-person pledge-to-vote events.  Over 137,000 young people pledged to vote in person, over the phone, and through our website, the iLike Facebook application, and the RTV Online Precinct application.


  • Rock the Vote Mobile sent registration text reminders to over 55,000 people this fall and more than 220,000 get-out-the-vote messages in the final days before November 4th; with the Rock the Vote Action Center on Facebook, 1,000 volunteers phone-banked over 13,000 young voters to remind them to get out to the polls on Election Day.


  • On the ground on Election Day, Rock the Vote field organizers and volunteers watch-dogged polling places in 38 youth-dense precincts in 20 cities to counteract any attempts to disenfranchise young voters. In Virginia, Florida, and Pennsylvania, we worked with partners and lawyers to take action when we saw young voters’ rights being violated (see Virginia story here).

It's hard to sum up in words all that went into making 2008 a record year for young voters - so check out photos, videos, and stories from 2008, collected throughout the year and on Election Day:

Photos from the field here.
Videos from the field here.
View the state-by-state action here.

What's Next

Student in MINovember 4, 2008 was just the beginning. Young people are changing the future and the face of our democracy.

For eighteen years, Rock the Vote has promised that young people would reward elected officials and candidates for public office with their support on Election Day if they were reached out to in a sustained, substantive, and authentic way. President-elect Obama responded to young people’s concerns and found them on the Internet, engaged them through text messaging and technology, and devoted resources and time to earn their trust.

This is a transformative moment. Research shows that once people register and vote for the first time, they become active members of the electorate for the rest of their lives. The same people who elected President-elect Obama will now ensure that he has the support to make the real changes so many of us have been calling for. And in the future, public officials who overlook young voters as a bloc will do so at their own peril.

Young people changed our country and politics forever. Rock the Vote will keep changing it with them. We'll be kicking off 2009 with an Inauguration bash that will put the political world on notice about the power of the Millennial Generation.  Stay tuned for our upcoming plans, from efforts to simplify the voter registration process to organizing for change on the issues that matter most to young people - we'll need each and every one of you to make them happen and continue this youth movement for real progressive change in America.

About Rock the Vote

Rock the Vote's mission is to build the political clout and engagement of young people in order to achieve progressive change in our country. Rock the Vote uses music, popular culture, and new technologies to engage and incite young people to register and vote in every election. We give young people the tools to identify, learn about, and take action on the issues that affect their lives and leverage their power in the political process. Rock the Vote is creative, effective, and controlled by nobody's agenda but our own. We tell it like it is and pride ourselves on being a trusted source for information on politics. We empower the 44 million young people in America who want to step up, claim their voice in the political process, and change the way politics is done.

RTV Logo for August

Phone: (202) 719-9910 Web:


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