Midterm demographics cont'd
I've been getting some pushback on my earlier post saying that Democrats are in trouble in part because many of the young voters who helped them in 2008 are likely to abandon them in 2010, while the seniors who opposed them in 2008 are going to make up a larger share of the electorate in 2010. And because my readers know how to get my attention, I even got sent this chart:
As you can see, the young do vote in midterm elections -- and turnout is actually going up. But though the trend is in the right direction, the midterm numbers are still disappointing: About 22 percent in 2006, whereas they brushed against 50 percent in both the 2004 and 2008 presidentials. Conversely, older voters have turnout rates a bit above 70 percent in presidential elections, above 60 percent in midterm elections. Not only do they vote in much higher numbers, but the drop-off between presidential and midterm elections is much smaller. Combine this with the fact that conservative -- read: older -- voters are more enthusiastic this year, while more liberal -- read: younger -- voters are less enthusiastic, and you see why Democrats are worried.
That said, this is a bad state of affairs. I'd argue that, if anything, it's more important to vote in midterm elections than in presidential elections, as lower turnout means each individual vote is more important, and Congress generally is much more important than people realize. And the left-leaning constituencies that prefer presidential elections to midterm elections need to realize they're setting up a situation in which the politicians they elect disappoint them in part because they need to fend off the conservative voters who dominate midterm elections.
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