On Tuesday the Pew Research Center released a report about cynicism and the American voting public:
Americans have long been critical of politicians and skeptical of the federal government. But today, Americans’ views of politics and elected officials are unrelentingly negative, with little hope of improvement on the horizon.
Majorities say the political process is dominated by special interests, flooded with campaign cash and mired in partisan warfare. Elected officials are widely viewed as self-serving and ineffective.
A comprehensive new Pew Research Center study of the state of the nation’s politics finds no single focal point for the public’s dissatisfaction. There is widespread criticism of the three branches of government, both political parties, as well as political leaders and candidates for office.
Basically: everyone is unhappy with all 3 branches of government.
Also on Tuesday, Philip Bump had a column looking at the age gap and cynicism using the Pew study as his starting point, and he concludes with this:
Cynicism is a challenge for a democracy. People need to believe that their vote can effect change. Young people are less likely to hold that belief, as Pew documents. In part, I would argue, that’s a function of America’s having an unusually large, unusually powerful older generation.
He touches upon this survey result:
Young Americans are also much less likely to say they believe voting can affect the future. Only 14 percent of those under the age of 30 said they felt as if voting could affect the future a lot. Nearly three times as many people aged 65 and over said the same thing. (Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents were more likely to be optimistic about the utility of voting, something that comports with other recent polling.)
The interesting thing to me about that graph is how many Democratic/lean Democratic voters do believe that voting makes a difference. Bump emphasizes all voters—because Pew is a non-partisan group—but misses the forest for the trees: it’s young Democratic voters which have specifically (along with women) turned out in larger numbers.
One of my pet peeves about polling is that groups are still refusing to show a true demographic breakdown of their survey pool. I don’t suspect Pew of deliberately messing up the pool, but this boilerplate wording doesn’t give away much: “The survey is weighted to be representative of the U.S. adult population by gender, race, ethnicity, partisan affiliation, education and other categories.” That’s fine but does it reflect the recent shifts in women and youth voting? I don’t know and so I can’t really assess how cynical young people really are, and especially young Democratic voters. I do understand why young Republicans are cynical about voting, and it’s all TFG’s fault.
Last week Our Fearless Leader wrote at length about the ongoing campaign to dump Vice President Harris from the ticket, and I agree that it’s not a great idea. Other than voting and voter registration, another measure of the enthusiasm of young voters is their reception of Harris during her campus visits as part of a tour to reach out to young voters:
Democratic strategists and youth participation experts said Harris’ tour is notable for making early and intentional outreach to young potential voters and voters of color — instead of just visiting or campaigning at large flagship universities the summer before an election.
In addition to visiting historically Black colleges and universities in key electoral states, Harris also plans stops at Hispanic-serving institutions, community colleges, state schools and apprenticeship programs.
It seems to be a huge success:
The energy in Pennsylvania for the @VP is palpable.
The youth vote is fired up! pic.twitter.com/QBKinQJd3q
— Antonio Arellano (@AntonioArellano) September 19, 2023
Of course a lot can and will change between now and November 2024, but I don’t think there’s as much cynicism among young voters as we’ve been told.
This seems a good way to end this: