Poll Predicts Low Turnout Among Young Americans in Midterms

Tuesday, 06 May 2014 03:23 PM

By Courtney Coren

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A Harvard Institute of Politics poll predicts a low turnout among young Americans in the upcoming midterm elections.

Twenty-three percent of Americans age 18 to 29 said they will "definitely be voting" in the congressional midterm elections in November, which is down 11 percentage points from the 34 percent who said they definitely planned to vote when the same question was asked five months ago. The latest poll of 3,058 18- to 29-year-olds taken March 22 to April 4 with a margin of error of +/- 1.8 percentage points.

By comparison, when the same question was asked in February 2010, before the last midterm election, 31 percent of young Americans said they would "definitely be voting."

"It's been clear for some time now that young people are becoming more disconnected and disillusioned with Washington every single day," said John Della Volpe, Harvard Institute of Politics polling director.

"Unfortunately, this is the first year of a trend we've seen where trust in almost every institution that controls government is dissipated among young people," he said. "Unfortunately, that leads to what I think will be the lowest turnout during midterm elections that we've seen since 2000, when this project began." 

The Harvard Institute poll also found much more enthusiasm about the midterm elections among traditional Republicans, with 44 percent of those who voted for Mitt Romney in 2012 saying they will definitely vote in November.

By comparison, only 35 percent of those who voted for President Barack Obama in 2012 said the same.

Thirty-two percent of self-identified conservatives said they were more likely to vote in November, compared with 22 percent of liberals.

A low turnout among young voters is expected to be a boon for Republicans.

"I think Democrats are appropriately worried that the youth vote is going to drop precipitously from 2012 to 2014," Democrat political commentator James Carville said in April. "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."

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