BOSTON (CBS) – The midterm election is now just weeks away.
If younger voters turn out to vote in larger than normal numbers, they could call the shots this November. But a new survey by the Public Religion Research Institute and The Atlantic Magazine finds only one in three young Americans are planning to vote.
A group of left-leaning digital activists called Acronym aims to boost that turnout by using shame, in the form of a web video featuring seniors mocking young voters.
“Dear young people, don’t vote, don’t vote, everything’s fine the way it is,” they say. “If the weather is nice, maybe you’ll go to one of those little marches. You might even share this video on Facebook. But you won’t vote. You young people never do. But [we] do.”
They have a point.
In the 2016 election, 71% of eligible voters 65 or older showed up at the polls, along with 67% of voters 45 to 64. Only the youngest voters failed to turn out a majority, just 49%.
The result: Even though Hillary Clinton swamped Donald Trump among voters under 30, his narrow majority among older voters was enough to win the White House.
“Trump – that was us, he’s our guy,” says a senior in the Acronym video. “Tax cuts for the rich? Hell yeah!”
Will this tactic help prod young-voter turnout? It’s been tried before, as part of an MTV get-out-the-youth-vote drive years ago, without notable success at a time when that network had a much larger reach.
The youth vote turnout projected by that new survey would be roughly the same as their 2014 off-year election showing, a year when Republicans won control of the Senate and tightened their grip on the House.
And with President Trump deeply unpopular with under-30 voters, a turnout that weak would raise a question – if this moment won’t draw them out to the polls, what will?