While pundits debate whether the results are a long-term trend or a one-time fluke, the truth is that the West is turning blue because a new generation of voters are getting involved.They've also got a little advice for candidates looking to hold support from young Westerners. This isn't a fluke. It's a trend.
These voters—our generation—are repainting the West. And they’re painting it deep blue.
Montana: Young voters turned out in force, comprising 17 percent of the electorate—compared to just 13 percent nationwide—and broke for Senator-elect Jon Tester by 12 percent. In 2004, they made up more than one-fifth of the electorate and supported Brian Schweitzer by 11 percent.
Colorado: Colorado youth went for Kerry over Bush 51 to 47 percent in 2004. Young voters were also the best age group for Senator Ken Salazar, who first won election to the U.S. Senate in 2004. Exit polls are not available for 2006, but we can only guess that Governor-elect Bill Ritter and expanded Democratic majorities in the statehouse benefited from a growing youth vote.
Wyoming: Wyoming is blood red, but if young voters had their way, Democrat Gary Trauner would be representing the state in the U.S. Congress. Young voters went for Trauner by an astounding 16 percent.
Arizona: While losing the election by 15 percent, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Jim Pederson won young voters by 15 percent—outperforming his overall results by 30 points among young voters.
New Mexico: Governor Bill Richardson saw his strongest re-elect margins come from young voters.
Idaho: No exit polls in 2006, but all indications are that the state’s surprisingly strong Democratic showing in a governor’s race and U.S. House race—Idaho is even more Republican than Wyoming—came again from a groundswell of youth support.