A new study by Harvard University’s Institute of Politics (IOP) just sent an earthquake through D.C.
The IOP is a part of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, which has been polling public opinion for decades. And, amazingly, their latest survey shows that people aged 18 to 29 are moving to the political right.
The data – which is causing a real stir – concerns the likelihood to vote. Here’s what the analysis, published with the poll, concludes: “Traditional Republican constituencies seem to be showing more enthusiasm than Democratic ones for participating in the upcoming midterm elections and are statistically more likely to say they will definitely be voting.”
The breakdown shows that 44% of those who voted for Mitt Romney in 2012 say they’ll “definitely be voting,” while only 35% of those who voted for Barack Obama said the same.
Digging deeper, we find that “self-identified conservatives (32%) are 10 points more likely to vote than liberals (22%); men (28%) are 9 points more likely to vote than women (19%); and young Whites (27%) are more likely to vote than African Americans (19%) and Hispanics (19%).”
Of course, young voters have been the bulwark of the coalition that Barack Obama and the Democratic Party are using to control America. By pairing the two traditionally Democratic voting groups, African Americans and Hispanics, with young white voters, they were able to capture the White House and Senate together. Saw one of the legs off this stool, though, and you’ll see the entire coalition topple over.
Greater Problems Ahead
It’s easy to understand why the poll numbers caught the eye of Washington, D.C. pundits. However, I see an even greater problem for Democratic politicians buried in the data: The numbers show a dramatic decline in voters’ faith in the government.
“The Institute’s spring poll shows 18 to 29 year olds’ trust in public institutions at a five-year low – and their cynicism toward the political process has never been higher,” said Harvard Institute of Politics Director, Trey Grayson.
Frankly, the lack of trust is understandable given the Obama administration’s track record… from the botched Obamacare rollout, to the economy–which is still struggling five years after the recession–to the embarrassing foreign policy blunders in Egypt, Syria, and Ukraine.
This is a real long-term problem for a political movement that relies on selling D.C.-built solutions for all problems. In fact, you can almost hear the desperation in Grayson’s words as he says , “To inspire the next generation to public service – and to improve our communities – our elected officials need to move past the bitter partisanship and work together to ensure progress and restore trust in government.”
Just maybe, if some of the programs that Obama promoted had actually worked, the polling would be better. But enlightened voters seem to have adopted a new motto: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.
And poor Harvard is lamenting the shift away from government: “It’s been clear for some time now that young people are growing more disillusioned and disconnected from Washington,” said Harvard Institute of Politics Polling Director, John Della Volpe. “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.”
Perhaps, we could restore faith in government by allowing young people to take renewed responsibility for their own lives. On top of that, the government could quit raping their paychecks every payday.
But at this rate, I wonder if the D.C. pundits will ever figure out that all young people want is smaller government and more freedom.
This commentary originally appeared at WallStreetDaily.com and is reprinted here with permission.
Photo credit: Andrew Aliferis (Flickr)
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