Turnout Leapt Among Younger Portland Voters in November as All Other Age Groups Stayed Flat

Voters ages 18-24 in Multnomah County still lag in turnout, but their participation increased the most this year.

Multnomah County's voter turnout rose among eligible voters to 82% in the November 2020 election, compared with 80% in 2016. Nearly all of that increase was due to voters ages 18 to 24.

This election cycle demolished a lot of conventional wisdom. Among the casualties: the conceit that young, progressive Portlanders take to the streets but don't fill out their ballots.

This year, 67% of voters in the 18-to-24 age bracket turned out, compared with 56% four years ago. Pollster John Horvick of the Portland firm DHM Research first noticed the increase in participation by young voters.

"It's notable that the unusually high participation rate was concentrated among the youngest voters," Horvick tells WW. "Much of this was surely an anti-Trump vote, but I do think it presents a challenge to the narrative that young voters are resistant to Biden."

Horvick also noted the results were interesting for the mayoral race.

"In all of DHM Research's polling, there was a large divide in support between [Sarah] Iannarone and Ted Wheeler by age, with younger voters breaking towards the challenger," he says. "Iannarone likely got the turnout rates that she was hoping for among younger voters, but Wheeler's support among older voters was too much to overcome."

Full Multnomah County turnout figures are available here.