Younger voters shrugging shoulders during “most important election of our lifetime”

by Ryan Streeter on October 1, 2012. Follow Ryan on Twitter.

Last Friday, Pew released poll numbers showing that younger registered voters (ages 18-29) are much less engaged in the current presidential race than they were at this point 4 years ago. In an election that has more to do about the future quality of life of younger Americans than any election in recent memory, this trend is a bit puzzling.

How many times have we heard during the current campaign that it’s the “most important of our lifetime”? I actually happen to be one of those people who actually believes this, given the fiscal situation facing America and the sharp difference between right and left on how to deal with it. But a good bit of America doesn’t share that view.

In fact, the lowered engagement this time around is broader than Pew’s headline suggests. The only group that is engaged in 2012 at roughly the same levels as 2008 is the 65+ crowd. This chart tells the story:

Elsewhere in the post the numbers are broken down a bit more, and it’s clear the younger you are, the less you’re following the race. The overall 18-29 numbers are down 14 points, but the 30-49 crowd is down 8, for instance. Only the 65+ crowd has stayed engaged at the same levels.

It’s clear that the long-term consequences of America’s current fiscal and economic condition don’t favor the young, but it’s also pretty clear that this point is making its way through the political noise both parties are creating during this election.