Will the recent wave of youth activism in protesting racial injustice translate into higher turnout rates in the 2020 U.S. presidential election? Historically, youth voter turnout has been abysmal. Young citizens typically vote at half the rate of older citizens, and this gap in turnout is much worse in the United States than other democracies.
Duke University political scientist D. Sunshine Hillygus offered an answer to that in the 2020 Henry and Bryna David Lecture, “A Coming Youth Wave? Mobilizing Young Voters in a Polarized Political Environment,” which occurred on October 8.
Hillygus is director of the Duke Initiative on Survey Methodology and co-director of the Polarization Lab. She has published widely on the topics of American political behavior, campaigns and elections, survey methods, public opinion, and information technology and politics. She is co-author of the new book Making Young Voters: Converting Civic Attitudes into Civic Action, 2008’s The Persuadable Voter: Wedge Issues in Political Campaigns and The Hard Count: The Social and Political Challenges of the 2000 Census from 2006. (Russell Sage Foundation, 2006). From 2003-2009, she taught at Harvard University and was the founding director of the Program on Survey Research.
The National Academy of Sciences’ Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education and Issues in Science and Technology magazine sponsor the annual Henry and Bryna David lecture, which has been endowed to bestow an annual award to a leading researcher who has drawn insights from the behavioral and social sciences to inform public policy.
Henry David was a professor at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas, executive director of the Assembly of Behavioral and Social Sciences at the National Academy of Sciences/National Research Council, Pitt Professor of American History and Institutions at Cambridge University, president of the New School for Social Research, dean of the graduate faculty of political and social sciences at Columbia University, and executive director of the National Manpower Council. Bryna David was also active in public policy, working as an assistant to Eleanor Roosevelt during the 1948 UN General Assembly in Paris, as a scholar in residence at the Rockefeller Center in Bellagio, Italy, and as director of the National Manpower Council.