Hundreds of Students Turn Out to “Rock the Caucus” Parties, Participate in First Caucuses Today

This afternoon, more than 450 high school students crowded into Rock the Vote’s Rock the Caucus parties at Valley and Lincoln High Schools in Des Moines, and then headed off to participate in their first Iowa caucuses. The big turnout bolsters other evidence that young adults are closely tuned into this year’s elections and will play a significant role in Iowa and throughout the 2008 elections.

“Today was proof that young voters will have a big voice in the 2008 elections,” said Ali Diaz, a 17-year-old junior at Valley High School participating in her first caucus tonight. “I’m excited to be voting in my first caucus; I get to play a part in deciding who the next president of the United States will be tonight, and that’s an amazing feeling.”

At today’s parties, high school students participated in a mix of entertainment and voter education. Giant maps pinpointing caucus locations, campaign materials from the candidates, and speeches from Rock the Vote staff and student leaders ensured every attendee was ready to caucus, while Guitar Heroes, raffles, D.J.’s, and pizza rounded out the fun. Students also filmed Make Your Own PSAs, talking about their top issues, favorite candidates, and reasons for voting for the first time, many of which will run on and YouTube throughout 2008.

At 5:30pm, students headed over to their caucuses. “Seeing hundreds of students streaming out to caucus tonight really brought home the power of young voters,” said Heather Smith, Executive Director of Rock the Vote, who attended the Valley High School party. “Today’s young adults are voting in numbers that are certain to make political leaders pay attention to them and the issues they care about.” After years of declining turnout, young voter turnout jumped significantly in both 2004 and 2006. The 2008 elections are poised to be the third in a row with strong young voter turnout.

Today’s parties were the culmination of months of work by Rock the Vote staff and volunteers in Iowa. Since the launch of RTC this fall, RTV has reached more than 2,000 Iowa high school students through class assemblies and mock caucuses, and another 14,000 through online outreach on Facebook and the RTC website, generating thousands of pledges to caucus. In the days leading up to the caucuses, RTV followed up with these voters via email, in person, and with a public service campaign to remind them to get out to caucus.

Check frequently for the latest info on young voter turnout to the Iowa caucuses.

About Rock the Vote

Rock the Vote’s mission is to build the political clout and engagement of young people in order to achieve progressive change in our country. Rock the Vote uses music, popular culture and new technologies to engage and incite young people to register and vote in every election. And we give young people the tools to identify, learn about, and take action on the issues that affect their lives, and leverage their power in the political process.

Rock the Caucus is a joint nonpartisan program of Rock the Vote, Iowa PIRG’s New Voters Project, and the Iowa Secretary of State Michael A. Mauro that encourages young voter participation in the 2008 Iowa presidential caucuses. Both the Iowa Democratic and Republican parties have endorsed the program.