Poll: Youth Disinterest in Midterms Good News for GOP Gains

Tuesday, 29 Apr 2014 09:44 PM

By Cathy Burke and Greg Richter

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Less than a quarter of voters under 30 plan to vote in the midterm congressional elections, a poll released Tuesday showed.

The findings of the Harvard Institute of Politics survey could point to big Republican gains in the Senate, and a continued GOP hold on the House.

"I think if you look you would have to say this is a good time for Republican chances" to take control of the Senate, poll director Trey Grayson told Roll Call.

The Harvard survey found 23 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds said they'll definitely vote in November, a fall of 11 percent since last November, when 34 percent said they'd participate in the 2014 midterms.

Democratic strategist and Fox News contributor James Carville told "On the Record with Greta Van Susteren"  Tuesday that the drop in the youth vote will be a big worry for the party.

"I think Democrats are appropriately worried that the youth vote is going to drop precipitously from 2012 to 2014," he said. "I think that's a valid concern, and I think it's a valid talking point for people who don't wish the Democrats well."

The Harvard poll found "there seems to be more enthusiasm for midterm voting among traditional Republican constituencies than Democratic ones," with 44 percent of those who voted for Mitt Romney in 2012 saying they're "definitely voting," compared with the 35 percent of 2012 President Obama voters who say the same.

The poll also found conservatives are 10 points more likely to vote than liberals, men are 9 points more likely to vote than women and young white voters (28 percent) are more likely to vote than black voters (19 percent) and Hispanics (19 percent). The poll's margin of error is plus or minus 1.8 percentage points.

Pollster John Della Volpe told Roll Call young voters show a "decrease in trust" in government institutions and an "increase in cynicism," adding both parties have made less of an effort "to inspire and engage people like they have in the past."

Grayson told Roll Call election-year politicking also "turns off this generation," and could have contributed to the 11 percent decrease since last November in young voters saying they plan to vote.

Carville noted the trends should worry both parties.

"So the best hope that the Republican Party has is that they stay at home," he said. "And the best hope that the Democrats have is that somehow or other they can reinvigorate them between now and Election Day, which it's going to be difficult to do, but they're going to try."

"An advertiser would much prefer to have a 25-year-old than a 65-year-old," Carville added. "I think a political party would too because there's a lot of evidence from political scientists that once someone votes for a political party twice that's a behavior that they maintain in later life."

Though a new Washington Post-ABC Poll showed 53 percent to 39 percent would rather see the GOP controlling Congress to counterbalance Obama, Carville noted polls can sometimes be off.

"I'll wait to see the next one before I get my straight razor out," he said.


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