The polls ignore the youth

Oct 192004
Authors: Vincent Adams

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. 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.

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