Why Young People Won’t Vote This Fall
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The Fiscal Times
April 30, 2014

Millennials 18 to 29 years old are less likely to vote in the midterm elections compared to the last time they were asked five months ago, as well as compared to four years ago, according to a Harvard University survey, published Tuesday.

Fewer than one in four Americans under the age of 30, or 23 percent, said that they will “definitely be voting” in the upcoming midterm elections for Congress. This is down from 34 percent last November.

Four years ago, 31 percent of young Americans said they would vote in the midterms, while in reality, 24 percent of young Americans actually did. That was down from 25.5 percent in 2006, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates interpreted by CIRCLE, a civic research firm.

Related: Democrats’ Midterm Challenge: Get Out the Vote

The enthusiasm for voting is greater among young Republicans than among young Democrats: 44 percent of those who voted for Mitt Romney in 2012 said they are definitely voting this year, compared to 35 percent of those who voted for Barack Obama.

This confirms a recent Pew Research Center study that found millennials are relatively unattached to organized politics. Half of young Americans choose not to identify with a political party. One reason for the loss of interest in voting during this year’s midterms is that young Americans are losing faith in political institutions and in the political process.

Trust in the president has dropped to 32 percent from 44 percent in the last four years, while trust in the Supreme Court fell to 36 percent from 45 percent in the same period. Additionally, trust in Congress dropped to 14 percent from 25 percent in the last four years.

Related: Obama’s Falling Ratings Hurt Dems in Midterms

Interestingly, the increased lack of trust in the president among young people comes mostly from Democrats: 53 percent trust him to do the right thing all or most of the time, compared to 64 percent a year ago. There’s also an increasingly wide disconnect between young people and American politicians. Fifty-eight percent of young people said that elected officials don’t seem to have the same priorities as they do, up from 51 percent four years ago.

Some of the major political issues concerning young Americans include the gap between the rich and the rest of America and the rising student debt problem.

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Marine Cole has been covering finance and business for a decade and has written for publications that include The Wall Street Journal, Crain's New York Business, and AdvertisingAge.