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California young people flock to register to vote, likely benefiting Democrats

Will Culpepper/Flickr Creative Commons
A large number of young people in California have signed up to vote in this year's election, Secretary of State Alex Padilla said in releasing the latest registration numbers.

New numbers released from the secretary of state’s office show a surge in online voter registration among young people ahead of California’s June 7 primary. 

In the first three months of the year, more than 200,000 young people registered online to vote in California. Seventeen to 25-year-olds made up over a third of all online registrations in the latest count. 

Mark Baldassare, president and survey director for the nonpartisan think tank Public Policy Institute of California, said to see such big numbers so early in the year is surprising, and something campaigns and others should be watching as they battle for their parties' presidential nominations.

"At this point in time, I think everybody’s taking California very seriously — as they should, because it may come down to California," he said.

As for who may benefit from the surge in registrations among young voters, Baldassare said it’ll likely be Democrats Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders. Sanders in particular has drawn large groups of young supporters.

Republicans probably won't benefit as much because many young people are registered as having no-party preference, and the Republican presidential primary is closed to those voters.

A PPIC survey released on March 23 shows Hillary Clinton drawing support from 48 percent of likely Democratic primary voters and Sanders from 41 percent.

Donald Trump led among Republicans with 38 percent of likely GOP voters to Ted Cruz' 27 percent and John Kasich's 14 percent, with former candidate Marco Rubio factored out.