The Voting Population is Gettin’ on in Years

An intriguing paper from Brookings relays how America’s voting population is skewing older. This is the first time in history (or at least the first census) in which people 45 and older made up the majority of the voting population.

These trends have combined today to yield an older nation. Median U.S. age is 37.2—up from 32.6 in 1990. Now nearly four in ten Americans (39 percent) are over age 45, up from 34 percent in 2000 and 31 percent in 1990…

Due to baby boomers “aging in place,” the population age 45 and over grew 18 times as
fast as the population under age 45 between 2000 and 2010. The aging of the U.S. population is most apparent when viewed from the perspective of age group growth patterns (Figure 1A). Each one of the broad age groups over age 45 show higher 10-year growth rates than each of those under age 45. As a consequence, the age-45-and-above population increased by more than one-quarter while the under-45 population increased by a mere 1.4 percent..

This advanced “middle aging” of our society may have important impacts on our politics, as this is the first census when persons age 45 and over represent a majority (53 percent) of the voting-age (18 and over) population. The political clout of older Americans will be even more magnifi ed if the traditional higher turnout of this group continues, and as the competition for resources between the old and the young becomes more intense.

Independents Rising

More and more Hoosiers consider themselves true “independents,” casting aside any political identification with either Republicans or Democrats. 

Twenty percent (20%) of Indiana voters today identify themselves as “independent,” even after factoring out those who self-identify as leaning to one party or the other. This is a 150% increase in true independent voters in just the last six years.

Indiana has whip-sawed in recent elections, delivering the state to President Obama in 2008 in the same year it voted by historic margins for Mitch Daniels. Then in 2010, the state led the nation in a surge for the GOP. What will Indiana independents do in 2012?

These are just some of the findings from a recent statewide poll commissioned by the Indiana Chamber’s political action program, Indiana Business for Responsive Government (IBRG).

Key 2008 Voters Moving to Sidelines?

Young voters, critical to the outcome of the 2008 presidential vote, may be sitting it out for the most part this time around. So says the latest poll from the Harvard Institute of Politics.

The reason: They voted for change and they haven’t seen the results.

Just 27 percent of Millennials — 18-to-29-year-old voters — say they will definitely vote this year. That’s down from 36 percent who said a year ago that they were likely to vote in this year’s elections. And it’s way down from the 51 percent of Millennials who voted in 2008.

John Della Volpe, the institute’s polling director, blamed the enthusiasm drop on first-time voters’ sky-high expectations of the president and economic woes.

"The expectations among young people have not been met relative to what they were thinking was going to be quick change," he said. "This isn’t just college students, this is an entire generation, and in many states the unemployment rates for this generation are twice as high as the overall unemployment rate. They don’t see the efficacy of voting relative to 2008 and 2006."