Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Young Voters in 2010 Midterm Elections

After the 2008 U.S. presidential election, I wrote about the role of young voters in Barack Obama's win and cited expert opinion at the time on whether the present cohort of young voters would continue to turn out in future elections and whether they would remain as heavily inclined toward the Democratic party as they were in '08.

Leading into this upcoming November's midterm elections for the U.S. House and Senate, state governorships, and other offices, Republicans have been projected to make major gains. It's not so much that Democrat-leaning voters are being won over to Republican ideas; rather, polling seems to suggest an "enthusiasm gap" that may propel a greater share of GOP-leaning citizens into the voting booth than of Democratic supporters. However, the Democrats may be catching up in motivation, to some degree.

An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released earlier today, with the headline "Battle for Congress tightens between parties," suggests that certain segments of the traditional Democratic coalition are started to get more excited about voting -- but young adults are not among them.

The NBC/WSJ pollsters attribute the tightening to increased enthusiasm for the upcoming midterms by African Americans (who saw a six-point gain in high interest) and Hispanics (who saw an 11-point gain).

But young voters, who helped fuel Obama’s presidential victory in 2008, are now sitting on the sidelines. Just 35 percent of those ages 18-34 are enthusiastic about the election in November, versus 65 percent of seniors who say that.

In an apparent attempt to reinvigorate the youth vote, Obama spoke today at a large rally at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and apparently will appear on other campuses in the coming weeks (see here and here).

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