September 15th, 2010
05:31 PM ET
11 years ago

Youth vote still 'up for grabs,' Rock the Vote says

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="A new poll indicates that young adults are extremely invested in the 2010 midterm elections."]

Washington (CNN) - Young adults will be a deciding factor in the midterm elections, and with just two months until November, their votes are still up for grabs, according to a new poll released Wednesday.

The bipartisan poll, which was commissioned by Rock the Vote, found that young adults are paying close attention to the election – about 77 percent of those surveyed said they were either very likely or somewhat likely to vote. And like older Americans, they are frustrated with the status quo.

"This generation relates to candidates more than political parties, and as a result, despite voting for Obama 2-1, they are less concerned with which party will win in 2010 and instead gravitate toward the candidate who speaks most clearly and directly to their interests and concerns," said Rock the Vote President Heather Smith.

This presents an unprecedented opportunity for both parties to connect with young voters, who are "out there to be mobilized," Smith said.

Rock the Vote is running an aggressive voter registration campaign this cycle. The group hopes to quadruple its 2006 registration levels by registering at least 200,000 young people to vote, Smith said.

According to the poll, Democrats have a 9-point advantage over Republicans among young adults, but that is down from an 18-point advantage in 2008. And 35 percent of those surveyed said they identified as Democrats, 26 percent said Republican, and 29 percent said independent.

More important than party affiliation, this year will be that candidates effectively communicate their positions on key issues like unemployment, the national debt, American dependence on foreign oil, global warming, comprehensive sex education, and the legalization of gay marriage, said progressive pollster John Anzalone, of Anzalone Liszt Research.

And despite their drop in favorability, Anzalone said that Democratic candidates can retain young voters through targeted, strategic communication.

"In past election cycles we've heard about soccer moms and NASCAR dads, but in this cycle Democrats would be wise to target young people. Since moderates and independents are leaning Republican going into the November midterms, Democrats should appeal once again to the young people ages 18 to 29, who have not given up on them since the 2008 election," Anzalone said. "Candidates who neglect young people are taking a major risk, as they will be the swing group for either party in 2010."

Nonetheless, the poll indicated that self-identified Republicans seem to be more energetic this cycle, giving Republican candidates a clear advantage in November, said conservative pollster Brian Nienaber, Vice President of The Tarrance Group.

"This data makes clear that there is real value for Republican candidates to target voters under age 30," Nienaber said."These voters have an improving image of the Republican Party. In addition, the top concerns of these voters are the same pocketbook issues that are the focus of nearly every Republican candidate in the country. Thoughtful messaging and appropriate targeting could yield a significant level of support with these voters."

The pollsters also noted that those surveyed were overwhelmingly optimistic about their generation's ability to affect change, but felt more skeptical about politics than they did in 2008.

Nonetheless, with more than double the amount of young people saying they are likely to vote this year compared to in 2006, young voters could potentially have a significant impact the coming elections, Rock the Vote's Smith said.

The national survey, which was conducted jointly by Anzalone Liszt Research and The Tarrance Group from August 24-30, interviewed 1,000 randomly selected 18-29 year-olds by phone and online. The poll had a sampling error of 3.7%.

Filed under: 2010
soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. tony

    Something has to be a balance to the tea party and the christian theocracy they want to bring and failed policies they want back

    September 15, 2010 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  2. Cindie Worley

    Young people, your interests and concerns as far as government is concerned are (1) How will it affect my life in the future? (2) How much will it cost me? (3) Is the cost of government too high for the amount of good it will provide to me? (4) Will my job pay enough to provide the government all it wants plus enough to give my family a secure life and future? (5) Should I really expect the government to do things for me that I could do better for myself? It is you, after all, Young people, who are going to gain or lose in the future depending on your government. Be careful. Sometimes you can't change things just because you want to...

    September 15, 2010 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  3. GI Joe

    My grandson and grand-daughter will NOT vote for anyone that is less educated than them. This includes schools, life experiences of ALL sorts, and truthfulness. They both use fact-check and explore the internet and intellectual friends for facts.

    They will NOT vote t-bagger/republican nationally because of all the untruths spouted on a constant basis by Rs and T-baggers since 2009. Locally, they like some of their moderate republicans.

    September 15, 2010 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  4. GI Joe

    I have such smart and wise grandchildren. They make me proud.

    September 15, 2010 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  5. Augsbee

    Of course these poor babies feel more skeptical than they did in 2008 because time has shown them that this talk of "Change" is not as easy to accomplish as they had believed from all those Motivational Speakers.
    Reality has set in that people have bills to pay, to work, things cost money, the rest of the world has problems, is not easy to convince people, things take time, some things may not Change. Hopefully, this time around they'll see things realistically before they vote.

    September 15, 2010 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  6. Eric

    "Dude, I'll vote for, like, um, whoever, like... uhhh... shoot, OMG, I forgot what I was saying.... oh, well, pass me the bong, bro..."

    The grating experience of "talking" with any young person for five minutes will cause even the most liberal of minds to ponder why the 26th Amendment hasn't yet been repealed.

    We prohibit these young nitwits from drinking alcohol for a reason... but we allow them to cast a ballot to elect the leader of the free world? Insanity.

    How about we make them a great deal... we'll let them drink at 16, drive at 18, and in return, they agree to postpone suffrage until 30 years of age (adjustable with the never-ending slide of adolescence into middle age)? Sounds like a great deal to me.

    September 15, 2010 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  7. La Piovra

    Young people should be involved, because they have a helluva lot more years to live in whatever world these elections create than old hard-timers like me.

    September 15, 2010 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  8. Dennis

    These youngsta's better get educated real soon and understand that despite the talk, the Republican party is know why interested in their long-term welfare at all. After years of watching both parties I have come to the conclusion that if you want fiscal responsibility elect a Democrat. If you want jobs and a strong ecomony, elect a Democrat. If you want to keep your money and not be told how to believe, who to marry, how to live elect a Democrat. The facts for the past 30 years are all there for the gleaning. Talk is cheap, results priceless! Look it up.

    September 15, 2010 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  9. Blake

    A bi-partisan poll by Rock the Vote ... I almost fell out of my chair laughing.

    September 15, 2010 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  10. Anonymous

    Young people:
    You better be concerned with both.
    It's your environment that will be destroyed and that of your children. It is your tax dollars that will payoff the debt while the conservatives give breaks to the wealthy and big business.
    Never vote party line, but vote for ideals that meet with what you want for your future and that of generations to come.
    You have a voice and the numbers- make a difference

    September 15, 2010 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  11. Derrick

    I like how Heather Smith said, "..gravitate toward the candidate who speaks most clearly and directly to their interests and concerns". I completely agree that it is the easiest to make a decision on these important topics when we can listen to what a candidate has to say and clearly understand their stand on the subject.

    September 15, 2010 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  12. Adam

    I think younger voters are paying more attention to the election now because of catchy marketing targeted to us!! Also, we are more interested when these campaigns have more association with technology... I use Twitter all the time to view my political viewpoints and I like to see other candidates on Twiiter. It is a must!

    September 15, 2010 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  13. Jessica

    I am moderate, but more and more democratic viewpoints I am agreeing with!!

    September 15, 2010 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  14. Jordan

    We are taking over the campaigns now!!!!! If it weren't for Facebook and Twiiter I don't think I would care about any of this! It's easiest to see what is going on through our groups/friends online!

    September 15, 2010 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  15. tyler

    i agree with this article. i am not at all concerned with the either party. i am concerned with what is affecting my views and i will support individual candidates.

    September 15, 2010 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  16. savannah

    i am most interested in what my friends are talking about on twitter and facebook... if someone has something to say about a candidate i will comment and pass it on! i think because we spend so much time online, we will make a huge impact in spreading the words and views.

    September 15, 2010 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  17. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    The polls and media have an interesting take on Democrats lack of interest in midterm elections regarding their recent low turnout. I think I heard that during President Obama's campaign. They will soon find out because we can show them better than tell them.

    September 15, 2010 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  18. Cynthia

    Why would any young person vote Republican? They offer nothing for the future, except the same failed Bush policies. They want to turn back the clock to 1940 or 1840, I can't decide which. They have no solutions to help bring this country back. They offer only hate, division and fear. Who wants that?

    September 15, 2010 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  19. jim

    To say the youth vote to whoever speaks clearly is pure popycock. Young voters generally vote democratic because they have been taught by the education system by educators that have mostly liberal views and pass that along to the students.Rock the vote is nothing more than an attempt to get more votes for dems while hidding behind the curtain of non- partainship.Bunch of bolony !!!!

    September 15, 2010 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  20. Willy Brown

    If you're listening to a rock star in order to get your information on who to vote for, you're a bigger moron than they are. – Alice Cooper

    September 15, 2010 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  21. Proud member of Global Zero

    Well, I have been speaking to young voters. You know, the 18 year olds trying to afford college. Thanks to the Presidents generous investment in Education and affordable college....Dems get the vote. Republicans voted against any help at all for them. They like it when big banks make a huge profit off of student more thanks to this President. Guess who went back to college to finish is EE son.

    September 15, 2010 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  22. victim of democrat hypocrisy

    "Rock the Vote". Hmmm...isn't that the MTV-created mouthpiece of the democratic party funded by Soros and designed to register more young democrats which was scolded by the Federal Election Committee a while back for putting too much emphasis on left-wing candidates?

    September 15, 2010 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  23. Carrotroot

    I'm in this age group and here is what is important to us:

    Elizabeth Warren being picked to head the creation of the new CPA (very important for us Liberals)

    Extending the tax cuts for just people who make under $250,000 and letting it expire for people who make over that.

    End DADT let gays serve openly.

    End the war in Afghanistan.

    September 15, 2010 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  24. Jess C

    Hopefully these young adults will understand who got us in this mess in the first place. They are smart enough to see through the lies and distortions. We do not want a repeat of the GOP strategies that sent our country down the tubes such as unfunded wars, unregulated Wall St., tax breaks for the weathy which did not trickle down to the middle class by creating jobs like they sold us on, etc.. I left the GOP years ago when they started focusing on big business, the wealthy and the extreme right-wingers at the expense of all others. The environment should mean a lot to younger people; they will inherited this planet and we've left it in a bit of a mess. The GOP recently proved how little they care about that by way of their willingness to "go easy" on BP. Our young people know who's working for this country.

    September 15, 2010 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  25. Rick McDaniel

    You mean the candidate who snows them the most? That age group rarely has enough world experience to make a good political decision.

    September 15, 2010 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
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