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Hullabaloo


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

 
Oh you crazy kids.... #disillusioned #whywouldntheybe?

by digby

The big news today is that millenials are disillusioned about politics. I can't imagine why ...


And that means they aren't going to bother to vote:


Despite what seems like growing approval for the president, the Democrats and Republicans in Congress among 18- to 29- year olds, the percentage of young people who are likely to vote in the midterm elections is shrinking relative to the last time we asked the question five months ago, and also compared to four years ago at this time. Currently, less than one-in-four (24%) young Americans under the age of 30 say that they will “definitely be voting,”in the upcoming midterm elections for Congress, a sharp decrease of 10 percentage points since the Fall. During a similar time of the year in 2010, 31 percent of 18- to 29- year olds reported that they would definitely vote. According to U.S. Census Bureau estimates summarized by CIRCLE1, 23 percent of 18- to 29- year olds voted in the 2010 elections, a decrease of 1.5 points from 2006 when 25.5 percent participated.
But then again, what else is new?



So, yes, young people are disillusioned, depressed and mistrustful.  And who can blame them? They are coming of age at a time of serious economic stress and lowered expectations. I did too --- it was called "the 1970s", and these attitudes remind me a lot of the way the later baby boomers felt about our institutions when we were young. It's ironic that Barack Obama is the vessel for this generation's disappointment while Nixon was ours, but it's not really about particular politicians so much as it is a sense of being sold a bunch of great big lies over and over again. That tends to take a toll on your youthful idealism.

But I also think that drawing too many conclusions from the voting intentions of young people in a second term off year election is a stretch. If there's a drop off it's just as much attributable to ongoing voting patterns that have little to do with external events:



Older people vote more often. They also watch more news programs and give more money to politicians. There's something about the routine rituals of democratic politics that appeal more to older people than young people. Maybe it's just that young people have other things to do and politics becomes a form of entertainment for us old duffers. I was a political junkie way back when I was young too and I blew off some midterms. It wasn't a protest, it was a lack of interest --- my congressional reps were usually incumbents who weren't in any danger and the state and local races were uninteresting. Ballot measures were what caught my eye most often in midterms. These days I'm one of the old people who no longer follows every musical trend or stays out late at clubs so I have even more time on my hands to think about politics, so I always vote. I know it's hard to believe when you're young, but your interests change a bit when you get older.

 I think getting young people to the polls to vote in midterms is always going to be a challenge. It's not that young people don't care --- it's just not a priority in off years.  I suspect that a stronger push for easier voting would help (the last thing the Republicans will stand for.) But here's some good news for the Democrats: studies show that the Party with which you identify when you're young doesn't tend to change. And everybody ages. So it won't be long before all those young Obama voters are voting in midterms too. The question will be if the Republicans are seducing the next groups of youngsters to their fold. Kids do tend to rebel against their parents ...

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