People underestimate us. I understand the reasons why, but it is
dangerous to underestimate us progressive youngsters.
Monday’s headlines were bad news for those hoping to rid our
country of an inept commander in chief. President George W. Bush,
in one poll he gained nine points on Sen. John Kerry. New Jersey, a
state almost permanently colored blue because Democrats rarely lose
the state, is apparently up for grabs. And Bush has a razor-sharp
lead in Florida and Ohio, two states that, if won by either
candidate, will probably pave the path to the Oval Office.
So basically, Kerry is down in national polls, some states
thought to be Democratic strong holds are up for grabs and Bush is
ahead in states where he needs to be. Things aren’t looking good
for Kerry and those who support him.
But an important ingredient for accurate polls is missing, and
people counting Kerry out because of these poll results need to
rethink their conclusions.
I know we progressive youngsters are typically apathetic and our
political participation is next to nil most of the time. We
youngsters are more interested in voting for the next American Idol
than the next American President. So I don’t blame those who
analyze polls for forgetting about us. Actually, I fall in this
youth demographic (18 to 25 years old) and am often guilty of
forgetting about us also.
But we hold the key to the Oval Office this time because the
polls haven’t accounted for a youth that seems mobilized
(surprisingly enough) and politically active this year.
A polling “expert” on MSNBC’s “Scarborough Country,” said this
is the first election year were many youngsters have abandoned
land-based phones for cell phones. Pollsters are unable to call
these cell phones and poll many of us, thus creating a huge gap in
poll results. This expert added that young people typically lean
left and young people are most likely to have a cell phone instead
of a land-based phone.
Polls haven’t caught up to the information age, so these polls
fall terribly short of accurately measuring which candidate is
winning the horserace.
And let’s not forget that this year boasts more registered
voters than ever. CNN.com reported, “New voters are … registering
in significantly higher numbers than four years ago as attention to
the presidential election runs high and an array of activist groups
recruit would-be voters who could prove critical come Nov. 2.”
Many of these new voters are young and have registered because
they know what is on the line and have become disenchanted with
many of Bush’s policies and decisions. Many polls are conducted
over the weekend when many youngsters can’t be contacted – assuming
they had a land-based phone that could be reached. Simply said,
progressive youngsters are busy and are probably polled less often
than older, more conservative people.
Sure, it is a bit naive of me to think most young voters support
Kerry and want Bush out. Sure, I don’t have a lot of solid evidence
to prove my case. But that is because there are no exact numbers of
new registered youths available – especially those who lean left –
and the cell phone theory is too new and theoretical to have
produced solid, statistical evidence.
But this is my gut feeling. The polls haven’t accounted for
progressive youngsters, but they will have to account for us very
soon. Go get ’em.
Vince Adams is a graduate student studying English. His columns
run on Wednesdays.