Young Black Voters: Study Dispels Myths

Broadly engaged? Donor? Talker? Where do you fit in?

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With unfounded statements like Herman Cain's "Black voters are brainwashed" flying around, it's nice to have some actual numbers about African-American political engagement, especially when it comes to young people, who are often written off as being inexplicably checked out with respect to civil engagement.

Today, Tufts University's Center for Information Research on Civil Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) released the results of in-depth research analyzing the civic engagement of young black voters. The study, "Youth Civic Engagement in the United States, 2008-2010: Understanding a Generation," shatters stereotypes and dispels many common myths about the ways in which young African Americans, ages 18-29, are involved in the U.S. political system.

The researchers challenge the commonly oversimplified portrayal of young black voters, concluding that the political engagement of young African Americans is much more complicated than many have been led to believe:

The findings revealed six distinct patterns of engagement that have emerged in recent years:

The Broadly Engaged (17.5% of black youth) filled many different leadership roles and did most of the civic and community work performed by young African Americans;

The Political Specialists (15.45) were focused on voting and other forms of political activists;

The Donors (9.7%) gave money to political or social causes but did little else

The Under-Mobilized (21.1%) were registered to vote but did not actually vote in 2010 or do much else

The Talkers (13.8%) report discussing political issues and were avid communicators online, but did not take much action otherwise; and

The Civically Alienated (22.5%) did hardly anything at all.

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