Midterm Elections in the Public Discourse

Pollsters are almost entirely focused on the upcoming elections.  Many are predicting substantial victories for the GOP, and analyze what is driving or curbing the enthusiasm of the electorate.

Harvard Poll:  Millennial Generation's Enthusiasm is Waning

Harvard conducted a poll of Millennials - individuals aged 18-29 - and find that election enthusiasm among this age group has declined since a year ago.  

  • 27% say they will definitely vote in November, compared to 36% in November 2009
  • The percentage who consider themselves politically engaged has dropped to 18%, from 24% 11 months ago
  • Millennials would prefer a Democrat-controlled Congress 53% to 42%

An survey analysis focusing on youth in the polls conducted by Pew analysis corroborates Harvard's findings.

A recent Pew analysis of Millennials finds that the still strongly back Democrats, but fewer say they have given a lot of thought to this year's election compared to registered voters 30 and over. 

  • 31% of registered voters under 30, compared to 53% of registered voters 30 and older, have given a lot of thought to the elections this year; this is a notable drop from 39% in 2006
  • 45% of Millennials, compared to 76% of the 30+ crowd, say they will definitely vote in the 2010 midterms; this is down slightly from 48% in 2006, but still higher than the 39% who asserted the same in the 2002 midterms

Democrats across the board are less engaged than in 2006, but the percentage of Democrat or Democratic-leaning Millennials that have given a lot of thought to the election has dropped substantially - from 47% in 2006 to 27% in 2010.  Millennials that identify as Republican or Republican-leaning, on the other hand, have seen a rise in engagement relating to the election, from 31% in 2006 to 39% in 2010.

Although a majority (56%) of Millennials identify with the Democratic party, the gap has narrowed for this demographic group - as it has in general - from 62% in 2008 to 56% in 2010.  The percentage of Millennials identifying with the Republican party has increased from 30% to 36% in the last two years.

Pew also finds that young voters tend to be more progressive than older generations on social issues, with higher approval rates for health care legislation and a broader government safety-net.  They also tend to be more optimistic about Obama's economic policies, the direction of the economy, and the state of the country, despite the fact that they have experienced greater economic difficulties than other age groups (51% of 18-29 year olds report that they or someone in ther household has been without a job or has been looking for work in the last year, compared to 44% of 30-49 year olds, 40% of 50-64 year olds and 23 of those 65 and over).

Read more at The Opportunity Agenda website.

Tags: Opportunity, midterms, Elections (all tags)

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