A recent poll by the Harvard Institute of Politics showed that 32 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds said they “definitely” plan on voting in this midterm election, which would be the largest proportion of this age group to vote in a midterm election in the past 20 years.
The poll also revealed that 52 percent of the 18- to 24-year-olds favored a Congress controlled by Democrats. The survey found that 18- to 24-year-olds gave President Bush an average grade of “C” on seven key issues, with Bush earning his lowest grade of a “D+” on his handling of the war in Iraq.
The poll was conducted online, surveying 2,546 18- to 24-year-old U.S. citizens in the first two weeks of October.
Tom Williams, a professor in the School of Public Affairs, said he thinks major issues like the war in Iraq and the extensive news coverage on the elections are the reasons more people in this age group are projected to vote in this election.
Williams said he thinks the young voter block has the potential of influencing the election results.
“If you get a significant influx of new voters than in the past, in a competitive environment, it absolutely could make a difference,” Williams said.
Miriam Callahan, a sophomore in the School of International Service and vice president of the College Democrats, said she thinks the youth vote will play a vital role in the upcoming elections.
“Our peer group, like so many other parts of the population, is dissatisfied with the Bush administration and the Republican Congress,” Callahan said in an e-mail. “I see the youth vote as part of a nationwide force sweeping Democrats back into the majority.”
Will Haun, a sophomore in SPA and vice president of the College Republicans, said in an e-mail he would not rely on the 18- to 24-year-old voting block to turn out in high numbers for this midterm election.
“While the youth has proven to be very politically active, they have yet to prove themselves a constituency either party can count on at the ballot box,” Haun said. “Surely, both parties have made a play for them. ... But neither side can really count on them at the ballot box, so until I see it, I’m not willing to call them a deciding factor in this election.”
However, Haun said the 18- to 24-year-old block should not be completely written off, as their voter turnout numbers are increasing slowly.
Williams said he thinks the Democrats have a very good chance of winning the House. The election started off with the odds against the Democrats, but “it would be an upset now if the House didn’t go to the Democrats,” he said. However, the races are much closer in the Senate, he said.
“My guess is that the Republicans will continue to hold the Senate by a vote 51 to 49,” Williams said. “I think the already tight or narrow margin for Republicans in the Senate will get narrower, but I don’t think the Democrats will win the Senate.”
Callahan said she thinks the Democrats will take over the House majority, which will allow for executive oversight once again.
Anna Loerch, a sophomore in the Kogod School of Business and communication chair of the College Republicans, said in an e-mail she thinks the Republicans will maintain control of the Senate and is hopeful they will hold the House as well.
“But even if the Democrats took the majority, it would really not have a great impact on Bush’s power,” Loerch said. “Also, I don’t think they’d be able to pass any significant liberal bills until after the next presidential election.”