In a phenomenon that threatens to repeat itself this fall, many discontented young people sat out the 2010 midterm elections, which were instead dominated by an older, wealthier electorate. An analysis of that election by Project Vote, a nonprofit organization that promotes voting in historically underrepresented communities, shows that, while overall turnout followed patterns typical of past midterm elections, several features stood out: Senior citizens turned out in force; the number of ballots cast by voters from households making more than $200,000 a year increased by 68 percent compared with 2006; and minority and youth voter turnout dropped.
The trends appear to be worsening for millennials. Data from Gallup and the Public Religion Research Institute indicate that fewer young people plan to vote in the upcoming election. Gallup found that just 58 percent of young voters say they will “definitely vote” this fall, down from 81 percent in October 2004 and 78 percent in October 2008.
Meanwhile, a Pew Research Center survey shows that young voters are generally less engaged in politics than they were in 2008. The proportion of young voters expressing increased interest in politics this year has plummeted: At this time in 2008, 69 percent of voters under 30 said they were more interested in politics than four years prior, while today, just 52 percent of that age group expressed an increased interest.