Is Obama really in trouble with young voters?

posted at 7:21 pm on April 26, 2012 by Karl

There has been a wavelet of stories from outlets like The Atlantic, The Hill and Yahoo! suggesting Pres. Obama could be in trouble with the youth vote. The Atlantic’s Molly Ball notes:

Less than half of 18-to-24-year-old voters want Obama to win reelection, and he leads a generic Republican candidate by just 7 percentage points, according to a survey of youth voter attitudes released Thursday by the Public Religion Research Institute and Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs.

The poll did not test Obama against Romney directly, but found more enthusiasm for Obama than Romney. The Hill’s Amie Parnes found a somewhat different result in another poll:

Obama leads presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney 60 percent to 34 when it comes to the youth vote, according to a recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll. But Obama’s enthusiasm has taken a nosedive, the poll shows. In 2008, 63 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds took a big interest in the election. Four years later, 45 percent have the same level of interest, reflecting the most sizable drop in one of the major voting groups.

Yahoo’s Chris Moody reports on yet another survey:

The wide-ranging survey of 3,096 18-29 year-olds conducted by Harvard University’s Institute of Politics shows 43 percent said they plan to vote for Obama in November, while just 26 percent plan to vote for Romney. The last time Harvard matched Obama against a GOP challenger, in December 2011, they asked who young voters thought would win the election: 36 percent said Obama would lose, a sign that support for Obama is increasing closer to the election.

***

However, Obama’s approval rating has dipped by six percentage points from Obama’s first year in office, according to a Harvard poll taken in November 2009, from 52 percent to 58 percent. That could be a sign that the youth vote is far more up for grabs in 2012 than it was in 2008, when Obama overwhelming won the youth vote.

As John Sides notes, these types of stories should always be read in the context of a number of polls, as well as the broader population and other demographics. Sides notes that a recent Pew poll has Obama over Romney 61%-33% among 18-29 year-olds, in comparison to Obama’s 66%-33% victory with the demographic in the 2008 exit poll. Those numbers are better for Obama than some of the polls cited above, but what Sides notes is that Obama’s numbers now are down 3%-5% among all of the age demographics from the 2008 exit poll results. Moreover, as Andrew Gelman notes, nonuniform swings are difficult to detect in a survey, because they have a larger margin of error. In short, Obama’s problem with young voters is likely reflective of Obama’s problem with voters generally.

So why is Obama wooing college students and slow jamming the news with Jimmy Fallon at taxpayer expense this week? Because Team Obama, like most everyone, is anticipating a much closer election in 2012 than in 2008. If Obama were to drop from 66% to the level of youth support John F. Kerry got in 2004 (~54%), he would lose ~2% of the overall vote, which he likely cannot afford. We cannot know this for certain. Obama’s 2008 performance with young voters was tied in part to his boost in performance and turnout of minority voters. Conversely, we do not know whether the Republican-leaning youth vote was particularly depressed. While the latest raft of polls might look like Obama’s youth vote has softened, the GOP should not take it for granted any more than Obama does.

Update (Allahpundit): One more data point for you. New from Gallup:

That 64/29 split is right in line with O’s margin over McCain in 2008, which is a testament to the amazing durability of his appeal to young voters. Even after four years of economic dreck, with recent college grads facing a brutal job market, they’re still his strongest age demographic by far. I think Romney’s strategy with respect to young adults during this campaign will be simply to avoid giving Obama any powerful wedge issues to get them excited. That’s why he sided with O on extending the student-loan interest rate and against the congressional GOP. He knows he’s going to lose this demographic by 30 points; his best bet at neutralizing them is making sure they have no strong reason to turn out. Judging by Gallup’s numbers, it’s working so far.

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the youth vote is locked in to obama. trust me!

gemini on April 26, 2012 at 7:22 PM

That 64/29 split is right in line with O’s margin over McCain in 2008, which is a testament to the amazing durability of his appeal to willful ignorance of young voters.

Dead Hand Control on April 26, 2012 at 7:27 PM

Not like 2008. I have 2 20-something children and they and their friends are not happy with the Marxist. When you can”t find a job you aren’t too excited to vote for the guy responsible.

Ta111 on April 26, 2012 at 7:29 PM

Dopes.

RedNewEnglander on April 26, 2012 at 7:29 PM

The youth vote was locked in 2010 and that didn’t work out so well, did it?

Roy Rogers on April 26, 2012 at 7:31 PM

They’ll all be doing something else on election day, having lost interest in the One who delivered on nothing.

Gitmo wasn’t closed.

The seas didn’t stop rising.

The economy still totally sucks.

Gas prices are punitive for going to the mall.

The jobs market is a complete frikkin’ disaster.

NOBAMA by default.

profitsbeard on April 26, 2012 at 7:31 PM

Nice picture…

OH LOOK!!! IT’S A KITTY!!!!!

BigWyo on April 26, 2012 at 7:35 PM

My two sons, one conservative and the other very middle-of-the-road, in their late 20s say he’s in real trouble with their peers. My stepson who’s in his mid-20s, who voted for Obama, just shakes his head when we talk about him.

My dear liberal, social science professor wife, who voted for him, may not vote for Romney, but I don’t expect her to vote for Obama. In either case she couldn’t bring herself to admit it, especially among her colleagues.

This I think is Obama’s real problems. Her fellow progressive faculty are probably incapable of pulling a lever for a Republican, or telling a pollster that they would do so, but i can see them refusing to vote for Obama.

AcidReflux on April 26, 2012 at 7:35 PM

Youths are idiots, but hopefully not so idiotic that Obama will get the same margins he got in 2008.

22044 on April 26, 2012 at 7:35 PM

Romney probably cannot win the votes of the immature and stupid crowd. But he can neutralize it or reduce the margin.

galtani on April 26, 2012 at 7:37 PM

And my sister whose pretty high up in the management of a public employee union says there are a lot of Democrats that are very dissolutioned with Obama.

AcidReflux on April 26, 2012 at 7:37 PM

Make disillusioned.

AcidReflux on April 26, 2012 at 7:38 PM

The fact that 0bama has been so pandering hard to this age group, indicates to me that his internal polling is showing considerable softness in their support/enthusiasm.

Rebar on April 26, 2012 at 7:38 PM

Obama will lose a few points amongst the younger voters. But he’ll really lose out on the low turnout. No way they are going to be as excited to bother going to vote this time around. Depressing enthusiasm is what Rove’s ad was for.

forest on April 26, 2012 at 7:39 PM

It’s pretty clear that the in-school crowd will be for him moreso than those that have been in the workforce, unless they’ve directly gained from it.

budfox on April 26, 2012 at 7:40 PM

The only people who RELIABLY vote are older people. The shine is off the “1st Black President”. Don’t count on ‘the youth vote’ this time around.

Unless Barry starts passing out “free” college educations.

GarandFan on April 26, 2012 at 7:40 PM

Just remember what Albert Einstein said: “Insanity is voting for Obama again and expecting different results.”

I’m putting it on a bumper sticker.

Attila (Pillage Idiot) on April 26, 2012 at 7:41 PM

It’s all about excitement. Young people are too lazy to vote normally.

If this election comes down to issues, policy, or a referendum on Obama, they won’t show up.

If it turns into legalization of pot, internet privacy, or file sharing just before the election, then they’ll be there.

Look for a bill on one of those issues to be passed in the Senate just before the election.

Nessuno on April 26, 2012 at 7:41 PM

The Hope,that the Youth believed in,is gooooooooooooone,
unless,they fall for the spin line from the Democrats that
its All Congress’s Fault!!

canopfor on April 26, 2012 at 7:42 PM

University of Colorado? Bah, what a terrible way to represent Colorado with college clip art. :/

Jeddite on April 26, 2012 at 7:45 PM

The voting ages should never have been lowered. The young simply don’t have the necessary life experiences to make intelligent decisions with the long view in mind. They are largely unencumbered by the economic issues that will dominate their later lives so are more likely to place social issues far above bread and butter economic issues and therefore vote with their emotions and what they view as “fair”.

They are also far more likely to believe the MSM and Leftist caricature of conservatives and thus believe things that are simply not true.

My 19 year old son thinks he’s a Liberal and the utter nonsense he spouts about conservatives is enough for me to disown him. He believes every absurd Lefty talking point put in front of him. Completely unable of independent thought.

Charlemagne on April 26, 2012 at 7:46 PM

Completely unable incapable of independent thought.

Charlemagne on April 26, 2012 at 7:51 PM

Is Obama really in trouble with young voters?

Yes, if you consider that he may very well get only half of the turnout he got in ‘08. Couple that with an unenthusiastic black vote, (and eliminate the idiot conservatives who plan their moronic protest votes), and Romney sends Obama packing.

Rovin on April 26, 2012 at 7:51 PM

I think Romney’s strategy with respect to young adults during this campaign will be simply to avoid giving Obama any powerful wedge issues to get them excited.

All Romney has to do to win over the youth vote is to constantly focus on economic issues and not give a lot of attention to social issues. Remind the 18-30 year old crowd how worse the economy has gotten under Obama, how high gas prices have risen, how high the unemployment rate is, etc. If Romney focuses on economic issues, I think he will be able to persuade disillusioned youth who voted for Obama in 2008 to vote republican this year. However, the minute Romney starts talking about how we need to reinstate DADT, amend the constitution to ban gay marriage, defend the teaching of creationism in public schools, he can kiss the youth vote goodbye. Remember, “It’s the economy, stupid!”

theoddmanout on April 26, 2012 at 7:53 PM

Our daughter attends a private college in South Bend, IN. The students there, more and more, cannot abide The One. The same school that had him speak at graduation a few years ago has really done a 180.

Wahooooo….maybe the college loans ARE working!

ABO2012

herm2416 on April 26, 2012 at 7:55 PM

I wonder…does Romney have any hawt daughters he can trot out to sing for him?

RedCrow on April 26, 2012 at 7:55 PM

Romney should start running ads explaining just exactly how much +$16 Trillion dollars of debt is…

… and what it means to the “youth vote”.

Seven Percent Solution on April 26, 2012 at 7:57 PM

I wonder…does Romney have any hawt daughters he can trot out to sing for him?

RedCrow on April 26, 2012 at 7:55 PM

No, they have five sons.

Rebar on April 26, 2012 at 7:59 PM

No, they have five sons.

Rebar on April 26, 2012 at 7:59 PM

Thanks.
(I thought it was an obvious joke–remember what’s-his-nuts?)

RedCrow on April 26, 2012 at 8:00 PM

They got time to show up at the voting booths, not like they’re working or anything.

Ukiah on April 26, 2012 at 8:06 PM

When a lot of them graduate next month and can’t find a job, they’ll get the hint. They can cry to their friends who have graduated in the past few years and still can’t find a job.

Enjoy living with mom and dad, class of 2012! Hope and change!

Philly on April 26, 2012 at 8:07 PM

Seven Percent Solution on April 26, 2012 at 7:57 PM

Not sure it’s really how much of the youth vote Romney could get 7% as much as how many will just simply stay home and not vote for Barry. The “youth” will still vote for Obama 70%/30% over Romney no matter what he does to draw some of their alliance. Don’t get me wrong, every vote will count and Romney will have to spend some time and money “getting his percentage” of this vote—-but the youth are still mostly young skulls made out of mush, buying into the entitlement mentality and feeding on government hand-outs.

Rovin on April 26, 2012 at 8:08 PM

I find in my own cirlces that most young voters just arent that intune to the process until right before game day. I havent seen MTV/BET/RAPPER/SINGER “rock the vote” campaigns start yet. I expect that Obama’s numbers with young voters will sky rocket once they do.

If Obama or Romney wants the young to turn out they just need to have Jordan/Nike sponsor their polling station. Do you see the way malls in your area get packed when a new pair of Air Jordans come out?

Politricks on April 26, 2012 at 8:08 PM

Not like 2008. I have 2 20-something children and they and their friends are not happy with the Marxist. When you can”t find a job you aren’t too excited to vote for the guy responsible.

Ta111 on April 26, 2012 at 7:29 PM

Same here. The younger one says she may not even vote at all. :(

jix on April 26, 2012 at 8:09 PM

If you have a kid whose just graduated and cant find a job. Point them towards the telecommunications industry. My company (VZW)is always hiring and we have positions in states all through out the union. Good pay. Good benefits from day one, etc.

Which is why I never understand this “cant find a job” complaint that I constantly see here. I live in Seattle so I dont know how reflective it is of the rest of the country but you go to monster.com and search for jobs in washington and there is no shortage of jobs.

Politricks on April 26, 2012 at 8:10 PM

The YouGov/Economist poll is my new fave.

The Mittster will soon be President Mittster and, while there won’t be any more beer summits at the White House, the country is saved! Laissez les bon temps roller, baby.

MTF on April 26, 2012 at 8:12 PM

Don’t tell Allahpundit about this. He might spend the night crying in his bathtub.

The Notorious G.O.P on April 26, 2012 at 8:17 PM

Carter v. Reagan

Bank it.

Anything else is an exercise in desperate self-delusion by the left-stream presstitutes.

I don’t have the time, but if anyone wants to research the pre Reagan/Carter polls, I seem to remember them saying the exact same thing they say now.

I don’t care how you slice it: $5.00 a gallon gas + 16 % or higher real unemployment = President Romney.

a5minmajor on April 26, 2012 at 8:30 PM

the youth vote is locked in to obama. trust me!

gemini on April 26, 2012 at 7:22 PM

But they won’t vote. There’s a whole new crop of 18 year olds who grew up during his failed time in office, and a whole lot of 21+ who don’t care anymore and won’t vote because he let them down.

jan3 on April 26, 2012 at 8:39 PM

But they won’t vote. There’s a whole new crop of 18 year olds who grew up during his failed time in office, and a whole lot of 21+ who don’t care anymore and won’t vote because he let them down.

jan3 on April 26, 2012 at 8:39 PM

Exactly. The youth vote is unreliable. For all of Obama’s much ballyhooed appeal to the youth vote, in the 2008 GE they constituted 12% of the total vote. I’m not saying 12% of the total vote is anything to sneeze out, but 2008 was a record turnout for that demographic. Obama is trying to “reignite the magic” (blech) with them, hence his lame appearance on Jimmy Fallon etc, to get them coming out again this November, but I don’t see it happening — too much has “changed” (but not the kind he promised). While they certainly will not be voting for Romney, they are the demographic most apt to be apathetic & just stay home.

Dark Star on April 26, 2012 at 8:49 PM

It’s the GAS PRICES, STUPID!

The younger set feels the pinch of higher gas prices right from the start because they are typically living on the edge of making ends meet. Even those who do have a decent job are shocked at paying $4 a gallon for gas.

drfredc on April 26, 2012 at 8:51 PM

Any and all MSM polls are going to be designed to depress republican turnout, nothing else. +10, +12, +15 points on the National Socialist Democrat Party are going to be the new norm.

jukin3 on April 26, 2012 at 8:51 PM

Obama will win the youth vote pie pretty convincingly (18-25 year olds are morons) but said pie will be substantially smaller than in 2008.

Really, how many young voters who were too young in 2008 to partake in Hope & Change are just waiting for November to get here??

TheLastBrainLeft on April 26, 2012 at 8:56 PM

Doubt it. Particularly if they are jobless and more are since Obama took office.

rickv404 on April 26, 2012 at 9:14 PM

They are so stupid and have always been so. The only hope are the small minorities who are too apathetic to do anything but exist, and the wonderful hope for our future, totally with it youth like MY 29 yr old. Who was an old man at 18 and actually had friends of the same ilk. I’ve worked with many of them in the past and KNOW they are ready for this.

They’re our only hope.

tree hugging sister on April 26, 2012 at 9:40 PM

I still maintain this will be sort of a Reverse Turnout Vote. As opposed to positive GOTV, this election will be both sides struggling to keep their bases from actively staying home.

eeyore on April 26, 2012 at 9:42 PM

Funny he picked Boulder, CO. Referred to around here as Berkeley East.

Russ86 on April 26, 2012 at 9:54 PM

But they won’t vote. There’s a whole new crop of 18 year olds who grew up during his failed time in office, and a whole lot of 21+ who don’t care anymore and won’t vote because he let them down.

jan3 on April 26, 2012 at 8:39 PM

Apathy to some of those college students means they will only vote once this time, and that’s bad for little Bammie.

slickwillie2001 on April 26, 2012 at 10:35 PM

The thrill is gone… the thrill is gone away.

jodetoad on April 26, 2012 at 10:47 PM

My son and 2 of my nephews will be casting their first votes this year(ages 18-18-19 by election day) and two of them will be voting for Mitt. The 3rd one is the son of a wimpy republican and a mother who thinks that Zero isn’t left ENOUGH.
Not all ‘yoots’ are stupid.

annoyinglittletwerp on April 26, 2012 at 11:34 PM

…many are still drunk…and still experimenting with drugs until they graduate. They won’t sober up or come down…until they get a job.

KOOLAID2 on April 26, 2012 at 11:42 PM

College kids who voted for the Coolest Prez Evah in 2008 are starting to come to their senses. But by all means, keep bashing Ron Paul – we don’t need their votes anyway.

Archivarix on April 27, 2012 at 12:15 AM

Archivarix on April 27, 2012 at 12:15 AM

I really don’t understand how a Jew can support or even tolerate a guy who gets endorsements from 9/11 truthers, neo-nazis, and Holocaust revisionists.
THIS Joo girl thinks that ron paul and his trash supporters should go get effed.

annoyinglittletwerp on April 27, 2012 at 12:54 AM

The good side is I don’t feel pity for them. The future Obama is destroying is theirs, and they are for him.

David Blue on April 27, 2012 at 12:59 AM

More proof that – Youth is wasted on the young.

uber-con on April 27, 2012 at 10:48 AM