Poll: Young women feel nation heading in wrong direction; many unlikely to do anything about it

This morning’s CBS News poll suggests the political power harnessed by the January 2017 women’s march may have dissipated, at least among younger women.

It shows that women ages 18-35 feel the country is heading in the wrong direction, are most likely to hold negative views of the current administration, and feel the federal government’s policies are anti-women.

None of that is the most interesting part of the survey.

This is: they’re the demographic least likely to say they’re going to vote.

Only 30 percent say they intend to vote in elections this year. Among those currently registered, about half say they’ll show up, but that’s significantly below the number of older women who say they’ll vote (76%).

For two years, we’ve had a steady diet of news stories trying to peer into the mind of the voter for Donald Trump, but almost none checking in with those who took a pass on showing up at the polls on Election Day.

The numbers reflect a historical trend, CBS says.

Younger voters have been less likely than older voters to turn out in past midterms. They comprised just 13 percent of voters in the 2014 midterms and 12 percent in 2010.

Those who are planning to vote are enthusiastic about doing so, and that is particularly true among Democrats.

Among women ages 18-35 who say they may not vote this fall, their top reason is not being interested in politics and elections (31 percent), followed by not feeling like their vote matters (19 percent), not liking the candidates running (14 percent), and being too busy (14 percent).

Almost six in 10 (57 percent) of women ages 18-35 say they are registered vote (lower than the two-thirds of women overall who report being registered). But among young women not currently registered, one in five plan to do so ahead of November’s elections.

For most of the younger women who do vote in 2018 it will be their first time voting in a midterm election, and for a third (35 percent), it will be their first time voting ever. Those already registered to vote are more likely to have voted before, but for four in 10 of them this year would be their first time voting in a Congressional midterm.

The decision not to vote because of the candidates isn’t unique to young women, however. In fact, it was one the one consistent across all demographics in the 2016 election, according to Pew.

Related: Electing More Women Would Change Congress (But Not Make It More Bipartisan) (NPR)

  • MrE85

    I can’t understand people who don’t vote. I just can’t.

  • Gary F

    Could it be that they see Clinton, Pelosi, Feinstien, Warren, and Waters as dinosaurs?

    • jon

      I love that you don’t even consider that they might consider voting for some one from the republican party.

      • Gary F

        Joni Ernst, Niki Haley, Kim Reynolds, and Mia Love.

        • I love that you don’t even consider that they might consider voting for some one from the republican party until prompted to do so.

        • RBHolb

          Young women would consider voting only for women?

    • Clinton not running. Pelosi, Walters and Feinstein are in one state. The survey was nationwide. Warren isn’t on the ballot in ’16.

      That’s probably not it.

  • theoacme

    I trust neither the Republican Party nor the Democratic Party, except to help the rich and harm the poor in the most American fascist manner possible, while killing as many people from other countries whilst keeping US body count down…

    …I’m over 50, and the only way I’d vote for a Republican or Democrat is to convict them all of treason…

    …and even though there is one candidate I might vote for tomorrow, since s/he’s in one of the two major corporate fascist political parties, the parties’ actions and words trump the otherwise-good candidate’s words and past actions.

    • jon

      Ah the old “they are all the same” argument.

      Granted neither is “the best” but in 50 years have you ever seen some one completely incorruptible? some one who has a moral integrity that is uncompromising and is always able to move the needle forward, even against an opposition that is actively trying to move it backwards?

      Chooses the lesser evil, because the lesser evil will do less evil (I shouldn’t have to explain this…)
      If you have a choice between getting punched in the face, and getting shot in the face, you don’t say “well both will hurt so they are the same thing.” You might say “I don’t want either.” but clearly one option is more preferable than the others… Sure push for a third party, and when they get elected you can say they are the same too…

      • BJ

        I think in the early 2000’s the parties didn’t have a whole lot of differences. Those differences have become much wider.

        But I also think neither one puts out much on a national level of ‘change’ those individuals that do are considered fringe.

      • >>Granted neither is “the best” but in 50 years have you ever seen some one completely incorruptible? some one who has a moral integrity that is uncompromising and is always able to move the needle forward, even against an opposition that is actively trying to move it backwards?<<

        President Carter comes to mind, but he wasn't really able to "move the needle forward", which is sad.

    • Barton

      So, do you not vote? or you do 3rd-party or write in votes?

  • asiljoy

    “not being interested in politics and elections (31 percent), followed by not feeling like their vote matters (19 percent), not liking the candidates running (14 percent)” –> these all look like shades of the same problem that people feel like the government isn’t fixable so why bother and I haven’t the foggiest idea how to fix that

  • Al

    I get it. I hate it, but I get it. We’ve been voting for years, and it feels like NOT. A. DAMN. THING. HAS. CHANGED.

  • The Resistance

    I’ve voted in every election since my first one and I still do. But, I can understand why many people don’t bother. America is very flawed republican democracy in which the effect of individuals votes have become very diluted.

    -Corporations, lobbyists, and the wealthy have outsized influence.
    -Gerrymandering has made most house districts completely uncompetetive.
    -The electoral college has give us second place presidents for 10 of the last 18 years. -Skewed presidential elections resulted in a Supreme Court that also doesn’t represent the people’s will.
    -Republican Wyoming’s 2 senators represent 600,000 people each. Democratic California’s 2 senators represent 38 million people.

    We like to think our republican democracy is the most representative in the world. It’s not. We just enjoy believing that it is and most people don’t care enough to demand that it be changed.

    • Mike

      Good summary of the dilemmas. I would point out, however, that – like it or not – the Electoral College has done exactly what it was supposed to do. It was designed to prevent a candidate from winning by racking up victories only in a few highly populated states, leaving the rest of the country virtually disenfranchised.

      The solution to the problem is for both parties to have relatively broad appeal across different regions and demographics. While I would say that doesn’t really describe either major party today, there’s obviously one that has failed (more) miserably than the other.

      • Rob

        I have no trouble with having elections for prez that are done on a straightforward, popular vote basis, with federal election laws governing the voting. We have proportional representation in the U.S. House, and that’s more than sufficient.

        • Mike

          It would be an interesting debate, but I don’t think it’s worth the energy because it would take a Constitutional amendment to change.

          If a party’s appeal is too narrow and they continually lose, that’s not really a Constitutional problem. It would be better for them to put that effort into figuring out *why* they lose and address it, but of course that assumes they want to know and are open to evolving.

      • The Resistance

        Hamilton, in Federalist 68, said the Electoral College would prevent tumult and disorder. That’s practically the motto of the current occupant of the executive branch.

        Your description of why it was designed is common misconception of the Electoral College. It wasn’t to prevent candidates from racking up votes in populous states. It was put in place as a safety measure to thwart the will of the people so the republic would “never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications” (Madison). The founders did not trust its own citizens because they feared citizens might elect someone such as corrupt con man/ failed casino owner with obligations to a foreign power. As a random example.

        I doubt most citizens have any idea that they are voting for party chosen electors who don’t really have any latitude on who they choose to vote for. As in the case of Minnesota elector Muhammed Abdurrahman who was replaced by the DFL after (!) he cast his vote for Bernie Sanders.

        I didn’t agree with Abdurrahman’s vote, but that incident clearly demonstrated to me that the Electoral College is not working as intended. There’s a reason that no other democracy or republic has an electoral college, and why most American citizens cannot explain to non-Americans why we have it, how it works, and how having more second place candidates than first place candidates win the presidency (and in turn, choose a Supreme Court) in this century is democratic. It has given citizens only one branch of government (congress) that is marginally democratically selected. And, because of gerrymandering and corporate/PAC money, that is also an extremely undemocratic process.

        If we wonder why people think their vote doesn’t count, it’s because they no longer live in the democratic republic they are told they do.

        • Mike

          “Your description of why it was designed is common misconception of the Electoral College.”

          It’s not a misconception. Like many historical phenomena, the Electoral College has more than one explanation. It exists partly due to the reasons you describe, but also because small states favored the math. Slavery was also a significant factor in its development.

          Ultimately it’s a matter of personal opinion as to whether the EC should be discarded. Although it’s something of an anachronism, the EC still preserves a worthy idea of our federal system, which is the important role of individual states in setting the national agenda.

          The notion that it represents some sort of big obstacle to progressive politics is not convincing, however. The most left-wing president of the republic’s recent history, Franklin Roosevelt, won big majorities in both the popular and electoral votes in four elections.

          Bill Clinton won a convincing Electoral College victory in 1992 with only about 43% of the popular vote.

          If today’s so-called progressives can’t win the Electoral College, it isn’t necessarily the fault of the institution.

    • Jack Ungerleider

      You forgot that California has 53 members of the House to Wyoming’s 1. There is a reason why the Constitution requires bills dealing with raising revenue to start in the House. (Article I section 7). I’ll assume you understand the compromises required to get the Constitution passed in 1787. The electoral college and the structure of the Senate are among those compromises.

      If you want to get politicians to listen get a movement together that calls not for Constitutional Amendments but for a Constitutional Convention (See Article V).

      • The Resistance

        I didn’t forget that. I’m not sure of the point you are making, since it reinforces my argument. On average, California house members represent 15% more citizens than the sole Wyoming member.
        I understand the Connecticut Compromise that favored small states, but like many of the other founders, I don’t agree with it. Just as I don’t agree with the Three Fifths Compromise. Sometimes the founders could be dunderheads.

        • Jack Ungerleider

          Compromise does that. You get a solution that neither side likes but both sides can live with. The alternative is today’s legislative stalemates.

  • Rob

    The headline puts me in mind of the maxim, “To one who consents, no damage is done.”

  • AmiSchwab

    anyone who shrugs off voting is harming themselves and their families

  • lindblomeagles

    These young women, from a non-political perspective, have a great point. Whether you’re a fan of Trump’s or not, it’s difficult for a woman, young woman, to hear a recording of a really old man (70 is old to most sensible young women) telling a much younger man, “When you’re famous, women will let you grab their crotch (editorializing),” only to watch said old man be elected enthusiastically President of the United States, and pay ZERO consequence for encouraging sexual assault. Never mind what Trump said; let’s focus on demographics. The economy might be performing well (generating jobs and growth), but the income gap is getting larger and larger by the day, and women’s jobs traditionally pay less then men. Racial animus is high again, and, unbeknownst to most people, American white women are typically next in line to suffer civil rights’ abuses after minorities do. Lots of people didn’t like Hillary Clinton, including some women, but here again, the young woman who might have thought the world could change has problems here. Serving as First Lady, Senator from New York State, and Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton clearly had more experience than her male rival, Donald Trump. Trump’s signature claim to fame is he swindled his way towards money even as a lot of businesses went bankrupt. Even with this resume, Clinton still did not earn the Oval Office. AND CLINTON HAD LOTS OF CONNECTIONS. If you’re a young woman, how do you rationalize all of this??? You have more experience, lots of connections, and you still can’t get through Washington’s Glass Ceiling. From that context, America is a sobering reality for young women voters.

  • emersonpie

    I live in a deeply red legislative district, within in a deeply red Congressional district. Only my vote in a state-wide race has a chance of making a difference. But I will always vote, because it registers my preference. Both sides will look at those vote tallies, down to the precinct level, and I want my one vote to be counted among them.