Youth unlikely to rock the vote, poll says

Justin Law

The Millennial Generation’s enthusiasm for the American political process is wavering as the 2010 midterm election approaches, according to a new Harvard U. poll.

The percentage of young voters has been on the rise, increasing 3 percent from 2002 to 2006. In the 2008 presidential election, 51.1 percent of 18 to 29-year-olds voted, according to the U.S. Census Current Population Survey.
Yet, only 27 percent of the Millennials are planning on voting in the 2010 elections for Congress, 9 percent fewer than were forecasted to vote after a November 2009 poll by the institute.
“In 2008, Millennials took control of their own destiny, entered the political process and changed the direction of the country,” said John Della Volpe, director of polling for the Institute of Politics, in a statement.
“Two years later, the challenges they face as a generation could not be higher.”
According to the study, 53 percent of Millennials  would prefer a Democrat-controlled Congress after the November elections.
However, just 49 percent now believe that President Barack Obama is doing a good job in the Oval Office.
In a hypothetical 2012 election match-up between Obama and a generic Republican candidate, 31 percent said that they would vote for Obama, 30 percent said they would vote for the Republican and 39 percent said they don’t know.
But, when paired with three possible candidates – Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney – the results changed drastically in favor of Obama.
“Although Millennial enthusiasm for the midterm elections seems to have slipped over the past year, recent election cycles show candidates who can motivate this critical demographic will have an important advantage in November,” said Harvard’s Institute of Politics Interim Director John C. Culver, in a statement.
In the company’s earlier survey from February, 38 percent of Republicans were interested in voting and involved in their party, versus 33 percent of Democrats and 19 percent independents.
But Harvard’s Institute of Politics doesn’t think that this is particularly notable, stemmed from the fact that only 18 percent of Millennials consider themselves politically engaged to begin with.
“Let’s hope they reverse the current decline in interest and participation, and continue the process of becoming this era’s defining political force,” Della Volpe said.
Students at Boston U. are torn as to why such low numbers of 18 to 29-year-olds are planning on going to the polling booths on Nov. 2.
“We don’t feel the impact of the decisions our leaders make, I don’t really care because I feel like it doesn’t affect me. If they’re talking about education I’ll care more but even then I probably won’t notice,” said Andrew Russo, a College of Engineering freshman.
“A big reason, for college students, is confusion over how and where to register. Especially out-of-state students lack the information whether they should register in their college town or state, or how to get an absentee ballot in order to vote back home,” said Jack Moriarty, a freshman Political Science major in the College of Arts and Sciences.