Only 1 In 3 Young People Plan To Vote This Year, But Even That Could ‘Tilt The Scales’ This Election Season

In the last midterm elections in 2014, only 20 percent of Americans under the age of 30 made it to the polls.

Two women, side by side, vote at separate voting booths.
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In the last midterm elections in 2014, only 20 percent of Americans under the age of 30 made it to the polls.

A recent poll discovered that young people in America are much less likely to vote in this year’s midterm elections than are older Americans. Yet it’s not all bad news: a higher rate of young people are planning to vote this year than have in midterms in the past.

Only 35 percent of Americans between the ages of 18-29 stated they’re certain to vote in this year’s elections on November 6, according to a PRRI/The Atlantic poll released on Thursday. For comparison, more than four out of five Americans older than age 55 say they plan to vote as well.

Even with the significantly different numbers between generations, if these statistics hold up through the election, it could mean a significant change in the electorate, as PRRI CEO Robert Jones explained.

“Just 20 percent of young Americans made it to the polls in the last midterm election, and we’re seeing some cynicism among young people about the efficacy of voting as a means of social change. But if younger voters turn out even at modest rates, it could tilt the scales significantly in favor of Democratic candidates, who they support over Republican candidates by a margin of 61 percent to 35 percent.”

Younger people showing up, even in the small amount they have said they will, could affect who wins the election, especially given their views on President Donald Trump.

While the poll shows a majority of Americans (62 percent) view Trump unfavorably, that rate is much more pronounced among young people. Seventy percent of young Americans view Trump in a negative light, but among older Americans, that number dips to 52 percent.

Some of the reasoning behind why younger citizens are less likely to vote this year than their more seasoned voting counterparts may be because younger people are less likely to see voting as an effective way of creating change in society. Among older Americans, 78 percent of seniors see voting as the “most effective” means of creating change, while only 50 percent of Americans under age 30 agree.

Meanwhile, other means of creating change get higher marks among younger people than they do by older Americans. Nearly one in five younger voters believe volunteering for groups in the community creates more change in society. That view is shared by less than one in 20 senior Americans.

Being active in social causes online is also seen as a means of creating change, though it’s a view shared by fewer individuals overall. Still, more young people than older individuals view this as a proper way to effect change, with 9 percent of younger Americans subscribing to this view versus just 1 percent of seniors agreeing with them.