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‘Gen Z’ a factor in Senate race

18-to-29 age group influential in Colorado
College student Cortney Ratashak, 18, of Littleton talks about paperwork with an electoral official before voting in the 2012 general election at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

DENVER – It’s a tight race for one Colorado U.S. Senate seat, with Democratic incumbent Mark Udall defending his seat against Republican opponent U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner. New research from a nonpartisan research group known as the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University suggests the youth vote in Colorado could determine the outcome of the November race.

“Colorado has, of course, got a competitive Senate race, so every vote is going to count in a way that’s not true everywhere in the country,” said Peter Levine, director of CIRCLE. “It’s an interesting state for a youth vote because turnout has been high there.”

Almost 60 percent of registered Colorado voters ages 18 to 29 turned out for the 2010 midterm elections, Levine said. That’s 10 percentage points higher than the national average.

There are 781,000 residents in that age group in the state.

Millions are being spent on both sides in the form of traditional print and TV campaign ads, but Levine said that according to his research, the key to the youth vote comes down to old-fashioned handshaking.

“The answer is direct contact,” he said. “Young people really respond well to being asked to vote, and to a conversation – either at their doorstep or on the phone – about voting because that allows them to ask questions and find out more.”

Based on historical trends, he said, it also is incorrect to assume that the youth vote will automatically sway toward the Democratic party.

Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District includes 717,256 voters, according to a CIRCLE chart. Of those, 113,102 are in the 18-29 age group, which is 16 percent.

More information about Colorado voter turnout is online at www.civicyouth.org.

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