Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Young voters and political party

Ann Althouse (my mom) quotes this report on a CBSNews/New York Times poll:

[O]nly half the 18-29 year olds are registered to vote and just 55 percent of them say they will definitely vote in 2010. Moreover, a mere 15 percent of young people say they are paying “a lot of attention” to the election. By comparison, 84 percent of voters over 64 say they will definitely vote, and 50 percent say they are paying a lot of attention to the election.
She makes a good point:
One is tempted to think that if only more young people would vote, the Democrats would have it made. But the young people who say they favor Democrats also aren't paying attention. They have to get interested before they'll be motivated to vote, and we don't know what they'd think after they paid attention. . . .

When you're young, usually you want to get along. You want to be liked. But do you care about politics? Do you really know who to vote for? Apparently not, or you'd vote.
See also "the taste of political and economic ideas." People often seem to be expressing coherent political ideas, when they're really displaying their taste or personality. Very often, the subtext of political discussions is: "I belong in our group, and I want to get along." If you're in a liberal milieu,* and you're talking with someone who states a lot of liberal opinions, you can't assume this person has engaged in any serious thinking about "the issues." It could be that they're skilled at adopting other people's words as their own, and they place a high priority on fitting in and getting along. When I was a teenager, I used to draw anarchy symbols on notebooks — why? Because friends of mine did this, and it was a way to signal: "I'm the type of person we approve of in our group." To conclude that I would have voted for anarchist politicians (if I had been old enough to vote) would have been a big mistake.

* Of course, the same thing applies if you cross out "liberal" and replace it with a different ideology. I'm using liberal by default because I've spent my life in liberal milieus. Or should that be milieux?


LemmusLemmus said...

A related article that may be of interest:

amba said...

So true. Political opinions function significantly, perhaps primarily, as tribal badges. They seem to have replaced ethnicity and religion in this regard. And this is NOT limited to younger people, as those of us know who have strayed from the birth fold later in life. Some friends may actually feel a primitive urge to recoil from you and even cast you out. It's a real test of love. (And I'm not even a conservative; I'm just an ex-, non-liberal.)