Gone are the days of young people heavily voting Democratic. The millennial vote is up for grabs and could even swing next week’s elections, according to a poll the Harvard University Institute of Politics released Wednesday. In a departure from youth responses in 2010, a little more than half of 18-to-29-year-olds who said they plan to vote in the 2014 midterms want a Republican-run Congress.
Millennials aren’t necessarily “becoming more Republican,” polling director John Della Volpe said on a press call, but young Republicans are more likely to vote this year. Half of all the 18-to-29-year-olds surveyed would prefer Congress be controlled by Democrats, but the numbers shift when only "likely voters" are included.
Among likely voters, millennials this year preferred a Republican-controlled Congress by 4 percentage points. In 2010, they preferred a Democratic-controlled Congress by 12 points, even though Republicans scored a sweeping vivtory that year. The takeaway for candidates, institute director Maggie Williams said, is “ignore millennial voters at your peril.”
Before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the youngest voters were a swing group. In 2000, the Democratic Party won the youth vote by only 2 percentage points. Several factors, including the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and Hurricane Katrina, briefly changed that. “Today, young people are just kind of returning back to their pre-Obama roots of being a swing constituency,” Della Volpe said. “They are more like the rest of America than we might have thought. They are not the outliers.”
As for President Barack Obama, millennials’ performance approval rating for him has dropped to 43 percent – the second-lowest since he took office, according to a news release. More than half of the survey’s respondents said they disapproved of the Affordable Care Act.
Congressional Republican approval is at 23 percent. Congressional Democrats’ approval rating was at 35 percent. But more than half of millennials said they’d vote to recall and replace all members of Congress. “They don’t think Congress is there to support their views,” said student researcher Ellen Robo.