Take Your Kids To Vote!

Tell AND Show How Good Citizenship Works.

The Situation Right Now

  • Overall, young adults have ambivalent views of the political realm and their place in it. On each of the core attitudinal variables that influence political behavior, young adults as a group have divided views:
    • On the importance of voting, 50% say voting is extremely or very important, while 49% say it is a little important or not at all important to them..
    • About a third each see voting as a choice (34%) or a right (31%). A fifth declare voting a responsibility (20%) and even fewer go further to say it is a duty (9%).
    • A bare majority (53%) say the government and elections address the needs and concerns of young adults, and a slightly smaller share (48%) say political leaders pay at least some attention to the concerns of young people like themselves. On the one hand, these numbers may be higher than many expected. On the other hand, this reflects significant cynicism among young adults when overall cynicism has significantly declined.
    • In terms of community-oriented efficacy, most young adults doubt the impact they can have – just 46% say they can make at least some difference in working to solve the problems they see in their community, while 52% say they can make just a little difference, almost no difference, or no difference at all.

  • The single most important factor associated with young adults’ sense of efficacy and views of politics and government is their parents. Whether or not parents discuss politics with their kids, take their kids with them to vote, and vote regularly is highly correlated with whether their kids engage in political life, even after controlling for all other demographics.

  • Just half of all young adults (50%) say they discussed politics, government, or current events at least sometimes with their parents when they were growing up. Moreover, slightly more young adults say they “never” discussed politics with their parents (19%), and some say they “often” discussed politics (15%). Among 18 to 24 year olds, the reported frequency of political discussions has declined since the NASS study in 1998 – at that time, 57% of young adults reported discussing politics with their parents at least sometimes, including 22% who said they “often” discussed politics, government, and current events with their parents.

  • Two-thirds of young adults (64%) report that their parents vote in every election or most elections. Just 37% recall going with a parent to vote.
    • Compared to young adults overall, larger shares of college-educated and college-bound youth, full time students, Republican and conservative youth, Democratic women, devout churchgoers, born-again Christian youth, and Northeasterners report having parents who discussed politics or took them to vote.

  • Parents’ behavior affects the range of their children’s political views and behaviors. In multivariate models that control for demographic differences, among the three parental behaviors, discussing politics is the strongest predictor of a range of young adults’ attitudes and behaviors.[2] Looking just at comparisons of young adults with parents who discussed politics and young adults who were raised with little or no political discussion on attitudinal and behavioral variables:
    • Efficacy: 56% of young adults whose parents discussed politics with them believe they can make a difference in solving community problems, compared to just 37% of young adults whose parents did not discuss politics.
    • Politicians’ responsiveness to youth: More than half of young adults (57%) who grew up with political discussion at home believe political leaders pay at least some attention to the concerns of young adults (+16 net pay attention), while those whose parents didn’t discuss politics at home have the opposite perspective (39% pay attention, -20 net do not pay attention).
    • Trust in government: Seven in ten young adults (71%) who grew up with political discussion trust the government (+43 net trust), compared to just 53% of those who grew up without political discussions at home (+8 net trust).
    • Importance of voting: Twice as many young adults who grew up with political discussion in their households believe voting is important (68% of those who grew up with discussion, compared to 33% of those who did not grow up with discussion).
    • Conception of voting: A plurality of those who grew up with political discussion at home see voting as a right (38%) and a quarter see it as a responsibility (24%), while a plurality of those who grew up without political discussion see voting as a choice (43%).
    • Volunteering: 33% of young adults who grew up with political discussion at home volunteer at least once a month, compared to 22% of young adults who grew up without political discussion. Correspondingly, just 29% of those whose parents discussed politics say they never volunteer, compared to nearly half (46%) of young adults raised by non-discussing parents.
    • Voter registration: Three quarters (75%) of young adults who grew up with political discussion at home are registered, compared to 57% of those who grew up without political discussion.

  • In order for parents’ voting habits to have the greatest effect on their children’s attitudes, parents must vote consistently in all or most elections. In terms of beliefs about voting, personal efficacy, and trust in government, young adults whose parents voted only in important elections (14% of all young adults) resemble those whose parents voted rarely or never (17% of all young adults) more than they resemble kids whose parents voted in all or most elections (64% of all young adults).

  • Parents who talk with their kids about politics, take their kids to vote, and vote in all or most elections also tend to raise kids with higher levels of political knowledge and more attentiveness to political news in the media. Higher knowledge levels and more frequent news consumption are also correlated with higher levels of political engagement.

And *actually* Voting Matters More Than Ever

So...what can you do?

Step 1.

Take Your Kids To Vote!

It's really not super-hard. But you need to do it every election - and just show them how this whole democracy thing works.

If you don't like the actual polls, getting an absentee ballot works great too. In fact, in some ways they are better. Just show your kids what the ballot looks like!

If the polls are usually crowded, check on early voting options!

Step 2.

Tell Your Kids About Issues That Are Important To You!

It's not enough to blindly vote for a party. Tell your kids about the *issues* that you care about - and how that affects your vote.

For bonus points - look up all your representatives on the national, state, and local levels. Talk about our system of checks and balances.

Step 3.

Tell Your Friends To Take Their Kids To Vote!

The more kids that grow up expecting to vote - the more engaged future generations will be.

Take Your Kids To Vote!