Friday, May 10, 2013

Why Young People Don't Vote

More than a year ago, I wrote an article for the New Republic about why fewer young adults would vote in the 2012 presidential election than in 2008 (The Surprising Trends that Suggest Young People Won't Vote in 2012). Was I right or what? Here are the voting rates of citizens by age group (and the percentage point change in the rate between 2008 and 2012)...

18 to 24: 41.2% (-7.3)
25 to 44: 57.3% (-2.7)
45 to 64: 67.9% (-1.3)
65-plus: 72.0% (+1.7)

To put it bluntly, the voter participation rate of 18-to-24-year-olds plunged between 2008 and 2012. While the overall rate fell by 1.8 percentage points (to 61.8 percent), the rate among young adults fell by an enormous 7.3 percentage points. One reason for the decline is the typical lower level of enthusiasm for an incumbent. The second reason for the decline is that voting is for grown ups, and millions of young adults have been prevented from growing up by the lingering effects of the Great Recession. Voting rates rise steadily with age as young adults find jobs, earn a living, set up house, marry, and have children--in other words, as they become established members of the community. By these measures, fewer young adults were grown ups in 2012 than in 2008. The decline in their voter participation rate was predictable, and predicted.

Source: Census Bureau, Voting and Registration

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