According to a Gallup poll last month, just 19 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 had paid attention to the election so far. That is a fairly low number in historical perspective, and it suggests that youth turnout may be pretty weak: around 22-23 percent of eligible voters.
My graph shows recent midterm elections. Both trends are much higher in presidential elections. For example, in August 2008, 75 percent of young people were paying attention to the election, and 51.1% ultimately voted.
The correlation between Gallup’s “paying attention” surveys and voter turnout in midterm elections is high: 0.84, for you statistics geeks. That makes paying attention a good predictor of turnout. On the other hand, no one has a crystal ball, and the future is ultimately up to us. If you want young people to vote, now would be a good time to get them interested.