Peter Levine, the director of CIRCLE, noted in his blog today the Gallup poll that was released a few days ago showing Obama losing ground to McCain, even among youth.  Levine correctly points out that Gallup’s sample size of likely young voters was 10% when, in 2004, youth formed between 16% and 18% of the electorate.  As Levine reminds us, young voters are usually always undersampled in “likely voter” polling screens due to little or no previous voting experience.

The underrepresented youth.

The underrepresented youth. (Courtesy of

But I thought Levine’s main point was very instructive:  if youth are sampled at their 2004 rate or one similar, McCain loses.  If they are sampled at this rate, he wins.

More directly — if youth turn out, Obama wins.  If they don’t, McCain does.  It doesn’t get much more elementary than that.

National Journal has a nice write-up on this, too.