If Democrats are hoping young Americans turn the tide in what looks to be a difficult midterm election, a recent poll might convince them otherwise.
The percentage of Americans age 18-29 who say they will “definitely be voting” in November fell to 23 percent, a steep drop of 11 points from December, according to a new survey by Harvard’s Institute of Politics.
Youth turnout has stayed between 22 percent and 25 percent in all midterm elections since 1998, according to Gallup. It has also stayed at about the same level in 2010 — where Democrats lost heavily — and in 2006 where they won control of both chambers of Congress.
Traditional Republican constituencies also show more enthusiasm in turning out to vote, according to the poll. Forty four percent of Americans who voted for Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election said they will definitely return to the polls, compared to 35 percent of Americans who voted for President Barack Obama that said the same.
“It’s been clear for some time now that young people are growing more disillusioned and disconnected from Washington,” said Polling Director John Della Volpe in a press release. “There’s an erosion of trust in the individuals and institutions that make government work – and now we see the lowest level of interest in any election we’ve measured since 2000. Young people still care about our country, but we will likely see more volunteerism than voting in 2014.”
The poll, conducted March 22-April 4, surveyed 3,058 18 to 29-year-old U.S. citizens with a margin of error of +/- 1.8 percentage points.