Why Almost 80% of Young Voters Sat Out in 2014...

November 9th 2014

The numbers are in and while young voters turned up in slightly higher numbers than 2010, they still fell short of taking control of the midterm election. According to early reports from CIRCLE, 9.9 million voters age 18-29 turned out for Tuesday's election, which makes up only 21.3% of the eligible voters, compared to their estimate of 20.4% in the 2010 election. CIRCLE adjusted the 2010 number in the weeks following the election up to 22.8%, so the same may be expected of the 2014 numbers in the near future.

Regardless, it matched up with the widely cited Harvard poll from earlier this year revealed that fewer than 1 in 4 people under 30 “definitely” planned to vote in this year's midterm. Now that the Senate has flipped, it's time for everyone to act shocked.... 

Here's why I am not shocked: young people had little to vote for.

For instance, take student loans:

We're still debating interest rates (whether they should hover around 4% or go up higher with the market), rather than the more existential question of "should college be free?" (which is what Germany just did, btw).

Re: jobs policy: 

We're talking about ending tax breaks and loopholes for millionaires (who we can't even fathom given our fledgling financial statuses) instead of saying "let's expand AmeriCorps by the millions so we can put every young person who wants a job to work through national service."

In terms of civil rights: 

Why did few candidates say "let's make every cop wear a camera" in light of rampant racial profiling and the death of Mike Brown?

On drug policy: 

Why are most Democrats and Republicans so reticent and meticulously worded on this? It appears to many--myself included--that they are more interested in protecting the jobs of the DEA than ending the failed war on drugs.

Successful candidates would have unequivocally said "we know for a fact that marijuana is exponentially safer than alcohol and it's unfair, unjust, economically foolish, racially outrageous, and medically stupid not to decriminalize or legalize it ubiquitously."

Instead, we saw a bunch of Democrats try to distance themselves from President Obama and a bunch of Republicans trash him. Hardly inspiring stuff...

To read more, visit our overview of the 2014 midterms here