The Washington Times - January 4, 2012, 06:28PM

Only 4 percent of eligible Iowa voters under 30 took part in Tuesday night’s Republican presidential caucuses, says an independent research group.

Yet for those young caucus goers who did participate, 48 percent turned out for Texas Rep. Ron Paul, helping propel him to a strong third-place finish, says a preliminary analysis by the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) at Tufts University in Massachusetts.


Former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania came in second among young people with 23 percent, while former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney drew just 14 percent of the under-30 crowd.

The 48 percent support for Mr. Paul was the highest level of support for any candidate among any age group in the Iowa caucuses, CIRCLE says. Mr. Romney won 33 percent of the votes of caucusgoers 65 and older, the second strongest concentration of support.

About 8,800 young people turned out for Mr. Paul, CIRCLE reports. In comparison, more than 30,000 young people turned out for Barack Obama in the 2008 Iowa Caucuses, contributing to his victory there.

Fifteen percent of all caucus participants were under 30, the group says.

“For the second election in a row, youth played an important role in the Iowa caucuses,” said CIRCLE Director Peter Levine. “In 2008, they turned out strong and gave their support to both parties’ Iowa Caucus winners, Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee. In 2012, they turned out at a more typical rate but threw such a high proportion of their votes to Ron Paul that he finished close.”

Because of lack of available data, the CIRCLE turnout estimates don’t include young people who participated in Tuesday’s uncontested Democratic caucuses.