Young Voter Blog Series - bucking the trend

How to Buck the "Predicted" Young Voter Trend

We keep reading the gloomy predictions about how young Americans are going to sit out the midterms. If you read too much of it, you might even forget that Election Day is more than five months away, these are projections, and there is a lot you can do to participate and get others to vote as well.

According to a recent poll conducted by the Harvard Institute of Politics (IOP), far fewer young Americans will be voting in this year’s midterm elections. IOP’s Survey of Young Americans’ Attitudes Toward Politics and Public Service: 25th Edition finds that only 23 percent of American voters aged 18 to 29 answered that they would “definitely be voting” this November, down from December 2013 when 34 percent of young voters said they would vote.

According to IOP Director Trey Grayson, “The Institute’s spring poll shows 18- to 29- year-olds’ trust in public institutions at a five-year low – and their cynicism toward the political process has never been higher.” In order to remedy this alarming trend, Mr. Grayson believes that, “our elected officials need to move past the bitter partisanship and work together to ensure progress and restore trust in government.” Further analysis from IOP Polling Director John Della Volpe reveals “the lowest level of interest in any election we’ve measured since 2000. Young people still care about our country, but we will likely see more volunteerism than voting in 2014.”

One after another ‘Debbie Downer’ statistic is found in this report. At U.S. Vote Foundation, we think it is great to be informed, but caution you to not take the short walk from this report to the pessimistic and frozen pool of nonvoters. Buck the trend and get involved! Congress matters and this election is all about Congress. Without a functioning legislative body, no president can accomplish much. Think about reaching out with the tools we give you at US Vote.

Perhaps the underlying factor for the decrease in voting among young Americans is the decline in the appeal and effectiveness of politics. After all, Americans in this age cohort have grown up in an era of extreme partisanship and gridlock. The message that voting is vitally important can sometimes be lost amidst the real-life examples of filibustering and bill-blocking.

The survey reveals that the number of Americans under the age of 30 who feel positive about the state of the nation increased compared to autumn 2013, but still lags behind spring 2013 levels. It remains to be seen if the trend will continue to grow more positive and convince more young people to vote in the midterm elections.

IOP’s survey finds that 58 percent of respondents agree with the statement “elected officials don’t seem to have the same priorities I have,” representing a 7-point increase over 51 percent in 2010. Rather than utilizing this reasoning to stay away from the polls, we should allow it to prompt us to let our vote be our voice. Remember – we are not merely statistics in a report.

There is no better way to tell your elected officials how you feel than at the ballot box. US Vote’s Voter Account makes it easy for you to register to vote, request an absentee ballot, check election dates and deadlines, look up election officials, and research recent votes from your representatives.

Have you checked on your election dates and deadlines recently? Check them out here!

Get started today on bucking the trend and let your voice be heard!