Honors Program Theses


Open Access Honors Program Thesis

First Advisor

Ryan McGeough, Honors Thesis Advisor


Voter turnout; Young adults;


Youth voter turnout in Iowa spiked in the 2018 midterm election. This paper attempts to figure out why. By replicating a 2004 study examining the voting behavior of young Iowans during the 2002 midterms, this study identified significant shifts in how young voters think and communicate about voting. After conducting 37 open-ended interviews with 18-24-year-olds, it was found that although young people identified many of the same concerns in 2018 as they had in 2002, they were far more likely to vote. Respondents were more likely to identify the consummatory effects of voting, which in turn led to an increase in the identification of the instrumental effects of voting. Additionally, respondents were more likely to identify voice as an important reason for their vote, which further augmented the high turnout rates. This paper argues that their belief in the efficacy of their vote contributes to their more optimistic outlook on politics.

Year of Submission



Department of Communication Studies

University Honors Designation

A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the designation University Honors

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (37 pages)



File Format


Available for download on Monday, May 17, 2021