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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

The Baloney in the ‘Right Turn of Young Voters’ Meme

From Kitty Lan’s “Harvard Poll Gets It Wrong: Millennials Aren’t Massively Shifting Right” at Campaign for America’s Future:

The “Survey of Young Americans’ Attitudes Toward Politics and Public Service” released this week by the Harvard Institute of Politics seems to send a simple, direct image: Democrats, you have lost the support of millennials.
But the tragedy of this poll is that it fails to tackle a fundamental question: Why? For that reason, it fails to paint an accurate picture of the challenges millennials face that underlie their political beliefs.
The biggest highlight of the Harvard survey is the reversal of Democrat’s strong lead in the last election cycle. “In 2010…according to exit polls, Americans age 18 to 29 favored Democrats by 58 percent to 42 percent, a 16-point margin. Four years later…the IOP survey finds that likely young voters prefer Republican control of the Congress by a slim four-point margin of 51 to 47 percent.”

However, adds Lan:

On Thursday the Youth Engagement Project issued a rebuttal to the Harvard study that pointed to a finding in the study that got lost in the mainstream media coverage. “Here is what the Harvard poll actually says,” wrote Alexandra Acker-Lyons of the Youth Engagement Project. “Millennial voters favor a Democratic Congress 50%-43 percent and self-identify as Democrats by +11 [11 percentage points more than Republican]. Only millennials who said they were ‘definitely voting’ in 2014 favored electing Republicans over Democrats, 51 percent-47 percent.
“The poll’s findings do not support the media narrative that millennials have become Republicans – they haven’t. Only likely youth voters favor Republicans. This is not without reason as likely youth voters are more likely to be white and conservative, which – as you might expect – does not reflect the youth voter overall.”
The Youth Engagement Project’s own poll with Project New America and Harstad Strategic Research concluded that roughly three-quarters of the millennials who voted for President Obama in 2012 would support Democratic Party control of Congress in 2014, while only 12 percent prefer Republican control. These voters could tip the scales for Democrats on Tuesday – if they show up at the polls.

While it seems unlikely that these younger voters will show up today in anything resembling 2012 turnout rates for their age cohort, it’s good to know that their MSM-trumpeted ‘right turn’ is just another example of crappy reporting.

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