New youth voters are feeling oddly less enthusiastic about Obama now than in 2008

posted at 4:01 pm on July 2, 2012 by Erika Johnsen

As a member of the recently-graduated demographic crowd, I can attest that I’ve got a fair number of friends — well-educated, hardworking friends — who are currently living at home with their parents. (Not that I think having a college degree entitles you to a job, and certainly no more or less than anyone else, but I do hear that back in the good ol’ days, there was a solid market for such qualifications.) They’re underemployed, they’re working part-time, they’re volunteering, or they don’t have jobs at all.

It’s frustrating, and I’m frustrated for them — and it can’t be any less frustrating for their parents, who are now diverting their financial resources away from savings and retirement and into supporting their adult children. It’s all one big hot mess, and as economic ramifications start to hit home more and more, it looks like the next generation of voters may be starting to realize it doesn’t have to be this way.

Polls show that Americans under 30 are still inclined to support Mr. Obama by a wide margin. But the president may face a particular challenge among voters ages 18 to 24. In that group, his lead over Mitt Romney — 12 points — is about half of what it is among 25- to 29-year-olds, according to an online survey this spring by the Harvard Institute of Politics.  And among whites in the younger group, Mr. Obama’s lead vanishes altogether.

Among all 18- to 29-year-olds, the poll found a high level of undecided voters; 30 percent indicated that they had not yet made up their mind. And turnout among this group is expected to be significantly lower than for older voters. …

Experts say the impact of the recession and the slow recovery should not be underestimated. The newest potential voters — some 17 million people — have been shaped more by harsh economic times in their formative years than by anything else…

For 18- and 19-year-olds, the unemployment rate as of May was 23.5 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For those ages 20 to 24, the rate falls to 12.9 percent, compared with the national unemployment rate of 8.2 percent for all ages. …

Yikes. Years of economic-related setbacks aren’t going to do much to energize the youths to flock (and I do mean flock — you know, like sheep) to the polls to vote for the incumbent president, at least not to the record-smashing, game-changing degree that they turned up to vote for Obama in 2008. Living on your parents’ couch or being continually discouraged in a summer job search really helps to remove some of the luster from the once-enticing promises of Hopenchange.

And with Obama at the helm, it isn’t looking like there’s an end in sight — as Jim Pethokoukis summarizes, several of our already-anemic growth indicators are starting to slow up even more. The hits just keep on coming (unexpectedly, of course):

New data suggests the three-year economic expansion — as anemic as it has been — may be at an end, or is at least perilously close. The Institute for Supply Management’s factory index unexpectedly fell to 49.7 in June from 53.5 a month earlier. A reading of less than 50 signals contraction.

Not one of 70 economists interviewed by Bloomberg thought it would be below 50.5. …

But these numbers are just the latest in a long string of worrisome reports including rising initial unemployment claims, slowing job growth, falling consumer confidence, and declining durable goods orders. Oh, and the rest of the global economy is slowing, too.

 

 


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