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'Other youth vote' is harder to mobilize

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The Clinton campaign recently hosted concerts and events featuring celebrities to draw a diverse crowd, says Emily Hawkins, national youth outreach coordinator for Senator Clinton's campaign. On March 22, for instance, America Ferrera, star of ABC's "Ugly Betty," hosted a voter-registration rally for Clinton supporters at a downtown Philadelphia club.

So far this election season, young voters without college backgrounds have lagged behind their college-educated counterparts at the polls. On Feb. 5, the day of the Super Tuesday sweepstakes when 20-plus states held primaries or caucuses, 79 percent of young voters had some kind of higher education under their belts and 21 percent had a high school diploma or less, according to data compiled by the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE).

The disparity is not a surprise, but "it's not good," says CIRCLE research associate Karlo Marcelo. This divide among young people is dangerous, he says, because it risks lessening the weight placed on issues important to young voters not in college.

"If they see that noncollege voters aren't going to come out and vote, the politicians aren't going to go out to them," says Mr. Marcelo.

The college-noncollege gap surfaced nationally in 1972, as unions and other organizations that had mobilized young people who didn't attend college declined. Reaching out to this group became expensive and time-consuming for campaigns, especially during the primaries.

College campuses have "built-in systems for mobilization," making them more appealing for large rallies or speeches by candidates, notes Chrissy Faessen, a spokeswoman for the voter mobilization group Rock the Vote.

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