Pew report shows generation gap in 2012 election voting, though not as definitively as is suggested

The Pew Research Center released a report on age and voting trends this week, attempting to shed light on the potential effect of generation on votes in the 2012 presidential election. The unabridged study claims that "Millenial generation voters are inclined to back Barack Obama for reelection by a wide margin in a match-up against Mitt Romney," whereas Silent generation voters strongly back Romney and Generation X and Baby Boomers hold mixed opinions.

The report certainly highlights the current national public opinion amongst varying age groups. However, the graph included in the brief summary presents the data in a misleading format. Although the data points before 2012 show national exit poll data, the 2012 points show "2012 preference based on registered voters." While this may indicate the trend we may observe next year, the predictive 2012 points are misleadingly placed in the same series as more concrete data from past elections. A number of factors (such as get-out-the-vote and campaigning efforts) could influence the so-called "young-old voting gap" in the twelve months leading up to the presidential election. In addition, the Young-Old Gap figures are presented in a confusing, unexplained format. However, Pew's extended report discusses an issue that is at the forefront of much recent election research: divided public opinion in a potential Obama-Romney general election.

SSDAN Office

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