Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 13, 2016

Poll: Majority of Younger Voters Not Planning to Turn Up for Midterms

Candidates running for office in this year’s midterm elections should expect little help from younger voters, most of whom, according to a poll released Tuesday, are unlikely to go to the polls in November.

The Harvard Institute of Politics poll of millenials found that just 23 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds say they will definitely vote in November. That number has fallen 11 percent just since last November, when 34 percent said they planned to vote in the 2014 midterms.

In February of 2010, before the last midterm election, 31 percent said they would definitely be voting.

Pollster John Della Volpe attributed the disinterest to a “decrease in trust” in government institutions and an “increase in cynicism.” Younger voters, he said, “need to feel like they’re making a difference,” a feeling that voting in elections does not necessarily provide. He noted as well that voting is often logistically difficult on college campuses.

Della Volpe also said both political parties have made less of an effort “to inspire and engage people like they have in the past.”

Harvard IOP Director Trey Grayson noted that the politicking that ramps up in an election year “turns off this generation,” and could have contributed to the 11 percent decrease since last November in people who say they definitely plan to vote.

Those younger voters who definitely plan to vote are likely to help buoy Republicans in their quest to take control of the Senate. Forty-four percent of young voters who supported Republican nominee Mitt Romney in 2012’s presidential contest said they definitely plan to vote in November, while just 35 percent of those who supported President Barack Obama in that election said they plan to vote.

Demographics that tend to break more for Republicans also expressed more enthusiasm for voting in November. Thirty-two percent of young people who identified as conservatives said they definitely would vote, while just 22 percent of liberals said so. More young white voters said they were likely to go to the polls than young black voters and Latino voters, 28 percent to 19 percent each, and men said they were more likely to vote than women, 28 percent to 19 percent.

“I think if you look you would have to say this is a good time for Republican chances” to take control of the Senate, said Grayson.

The KnowledgePanel poll results are based on interviews with 3,058 U.S. citizens age 18 through 29. The interviews were conducted from March 22 through April 4 by GfK on behalf of the Harvard IOP. There is a plus or minus 1.8 percentage point margin of error at a 95 percent confidence level.

  • davidvoth

    Young whippersnappers don’t have an iota of sense anyway. Leave it to more experienced voters to make the best choices.

  • ID-2

    I am a young conservative and I definitely plan to vote.

  • Grumpy

    Ahhh, as much as I hate to say it..

    If us more experienced voters had done it right, we’d have recycled the entire DC political class, every last one of them, at least twice over the last 30 years..

    Reid, McCain and Schumer would be watching sunsets from a rocking chair..Boehner would be splitting his time between a tanning bed and the golf course…and Pelosi on her broom scaring San Franciscans out of their minds.. The country would be much better off..

  • Layla

    I’m not sure where the polling was done, but in my state they are chomping at the bit to vote and there are some surprises in store!

  • Jack Everett

    If they do not vote they need to keep their mouth shut!

  • Beren_Camlost

    If your conservative, you need to plan on reading and gain some wisdom first. Try L. Fletcher Prouty’s book on JFK. If you can read that and remain conservative, you have no heart.

  • Kevin Schmidt

    Yeah! If they don’t vote for the lesser of two evil corporate political parties who are two evil sides of the same evil duopoly coin, they need to keep their big mouths shut!

    On Election Day, vote straight Democratic-Republican DUHopoly Party.
    You have the right to elect who we select.

  • Kevin Schmidt

    Yeah! Us experienced old fogey voters know how to consistently vote for the lesser of two evil political parties. But what we don’t understand is why we keep ending up with an evil government. It’s insane!

  • Firey Hooks

    While those preaching collectivism conjure up an ever-shifting mirage of illusions, those who understand individualism recognize that civilization is best understood through the motivations, decisions, and actions of the individuals comprising it.

  • reconquista

    So, my younger friends, how is that Hope and Changee thingee working out for you?

  • Roberto M

    And as much as I hate to say it, I agree with your sentiment. DC has become the equivalent of a centuries old fossil discovery!

  • Nicko Thime

    The fewer voters who turn out, the better it is for right-wing extremism. That is the point of their voter suppression activities, like Voter ID cards and gerrymandering

    Do your part. Vote to insure that we Dump the Tea!

  • Nicko Thime

    Given the recent voting records rom Reagan forward, I’d say you are dead wrong.

  • jbowen43

    Younger voters are being played by the right. Republicans know that a lower turnout of younger voters favors their candidates being elected.

  • Nicko Thime

    Better than the alternative, which was the biggest recession in 80 years, off-budget wars and the most inept twit ever to sit in the White House..
    Far better than McCain and Caribou barbie. WAY better than Mitt and Howdy Doody.

  • smoochie

    If the Dems offered real opposition, they’d vote.

  • Gman123

    If you aren’t a conservative after listening to any of Milton Friedman’s videos on YouTube, you have no brain.

  • Gman123

    Please, this is the know-it-all generation. They’ll be vocal as hell no matter whether they’re right or wrong, vote or not.

  • Firey Hooks

    Although we benefit from others’ efforts, civilization’s advance is not the result of any sort of directed collective effort by humanity.

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