Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

"If Young Americans Voted"

There's a good article on youth voting at Real Clear Politics. Some quotes:
Democrats have long pursued the so-called youth vote. Their perennial hope has been that young people, who are traditionally liberal, would march to the polls in greater numbers. But they usually wake up the first Wednesday in November realizing that their Great White Whale had overslept once again.

When the voting age was dropped to 18 in 1972, all hailed a new era for youthful involvement in our democracy. The reality is that over the last 35 years, the youngest group's participation in elections has steadily dropped.


A new Pew Research Center survey touches on the apparent lack of political knowledge among Millennials. Its objective was to test whether Americans are more or less informed about current affairs than they were in 1989. The conclusion is that they know about as little now as they did then.

The survey did compare age groups, and the 18- to 29-year-olds did far worse than the others. Only 15 percent had a "high knowledge" of current affairs, and 59 percent had "low knowledge." The remaining 29 percent were in the middle.


Another recent survey, from Harvard's Institute of Politics, attempts to assess the political attitudes of the 29 million Americans age 18 and to 24. It finds that 35 percent identify with Democrats and 25 percent with Republicans, but 40 percent with neither. Some 61 percent think health insurance is a basic right, and only 23 percent want religious values to play a strong role in government.

The Millennials sound liberal but feel independent. If push comes to shove, they'd probably be Democratic voters, were they to vote.
I'd like to get some thoughts on this from our younger readers.


Truth said...

Does the study mention how 18-29 year olds compared with older people, because the studies I've read always seem to show a much higher level of political knowledge in the younger generation than in the older.

Tom Forbes said...

Yes it did. The full study can be found here.

The breakdown by age group is:

18-29 - 15% high knowledge, 29% medium knowledge, and 56% low knowledge

30-49 - 35% high knowledge, 32% medium knowledge, 33% low knowledge

50-64 - 47% high knowledge, 31% medium knowledge, 22% low knowledge

65+ - 43% high knowledge, 29% medium knowledge, 28% low knowledge

So 18-29 is the least informed age group on current events. The most informed group demographically were male, college graduate baby boomers.

You can take the quiz yourself here.

Another intersting survey of "Generation Next" can be found here.