People my age don't vote much. This election should break from that pattern. While a lower percent of 18-year-olds to 30-year-olds will vote than those in other age ranges, the percent will rise from 2000. And there's no guarantee that the youth vote will be a boon for Sen. John Kerry. In fact, the latest Washington Post/ABC poll shows George W. Bush holding a 53-41 percent lead among those aged 18 to 30, the highest level of support for Bush among any age group.
Young people are turning more and more away from the solutions of the Democratic Party. The old adage that as people age they tend to become more Republican is being turned on its head in this election: The Washington Post/ABC poll shows that Kerry's support comes from those among the 61 or older population. A September 2002 University of California at Berkeley study showed that on certain social issues, young people were more likely than their elders to slant conservative. Those between ages 15 and 22 showed markedly more support for school prayer, faith-based initiatives and government restrictions on abortion than adults over 26. Virginity rates are rising, and teenage pregnancy rates are dropping.
The evidence isn't unanimous, however. The 18 to 30 crowd has the lowest approval ratings for President Bush of any voting group. My peers largely support the gay activist agenda and higher education costs, and feel that depictions of violence and sex in mass media do little harm. Those virginity statistics may be misleading: There is a rising contingent of young people who have oral sex but still count themselves virgins. Only 41 percent of 18 to 30s say President Bush shares their values, while 45 percent say John Kerry does -- it's the only age group to sympathize with Kerry's values over Bush's.
So with the wide variance of views present in today's youth culture, why the support for Bush? Priorities. Young voters are less susceptible to scare tactics revolving around government programs like Social Security and Medicare. Only 8 percent of 18 to 30s cite health care as their top priority for this election, while 18 percent of those over 61 do. And we aren't afraid to think about different solutions for health care and Social Security, either. We realize that there are serious questions about the future feasibility of Social Security, and we believe we're well qualified to make choices about our own money. As for health care, we're not overly worried: At age 20, health care isn't your biggest concern.
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