In 2008, the youth vote was practically gift-wrapped for President Obama, with larger-than-average numbers of starry-eyed, enthusiastic, inspired under-30s showing up at the polls to vote overwhelmingly in his favor. Obama barely even had to do any real work to convince them that he was their guy — the pervasive sentiments of Hopenchange and his totally sweet graphic designs were enough to get the job done. Obama’s been losing some of his steam with the youth vote for a time now, and as Karl Rove penned in today’s WSJ, it looks like cold, hard reality might finally be forcing the youths to wise up:
Then there are voters ages 18 to 29, among Mr. Obama’s most important supporters in 2008. The roughly 23.7 million “millennials” who voted in 2008 were 18% of the electorate, up 2.9 million voters over the previous presidential race. They gave Mr. Obama 66% to Sen. John McCain’s 32%, according to exit polls. This margin of roughly eight million votes was a major chunk of Mr. Obama’s overall edge of 9.6 million.
But youthful enthusiasm for Mr. Obama has waned. In October 2008, 78% of voters 18-29 told Gallup they would definitely vote that year. Now it’s 58%.
There’s also evidence that fewer younger people are registered. A November 2011 study from Tufts University found that 43% of the decline in Nevada’s voter rolls since 2008 came from voters ages 18-24. Similarly, while North Carolina’s rolls rose by 93,709 over that period, more than 48,000 younger voters were dropped from the rolls, 80% of them Democrats.
Mr. Obama’s lead over Mr. Romney in the latest JZ Analytics poll among voters ages 18-29 is 49% to 41%. If young voters turn out this fall in the same numbers as in 2008 and give Mr. Obama this eight-point margin, it will take 2.8 million votes from Mr. Obama’s total and add more than 3.3 million to Mr. Romney’s tally.
Somehow, I don’t think it’s any of the young idealists’ normally pet-issues of climate change or ending the wars or whatever that’s causing them to turn tail from supporting the President — but our lately meager economic growth and the almost 13 percent unemployment rate among those aged 18-29 might have something to do with it. As more students graduating from high school and college during Obama’s tenure have remained guests on their parents’ couches, frustrated and unemployed/underemployed, promises of lowering their student loan repayments by a few dollars and letting them stay on their parents’ health care plans until they’re 26 flipping years old (culture of dependency, much?), have worn increasingly thin. Finding good jobs that can provide them with their own health care plans are becoming somewhat more of a priority.
It isn’t for lack of trying to spellbind — er, I mean, persuade — the youths, however; President Obama has increased his campus presence 175 percent in 2012, according to a study from American Majority Action (granted, it is a presidential election year, but the amount of time he spends talking about his ‘investments’ in green energy and education and whatnot seems somewhat disproportionate with the importance most voters place on jobs and the economy):
President Obama spoke 13 times on college and high school campuses in August alone—more than any other month of his Presidency, according to a new study from American Majority Action’s Campus Action project. Desperate to try to energize a youth vote that is starting down a long unemployment line, the study shows that since January 2012, the President has increased his presence on college campuses by a staggering 175 percent over last year’s appearances.
President Obama has appeared on campus one out of every ten days since his administration began. … However, during this year’s reelection campaign Obama has already appeared 44 times on campuses with 37 of those in “swing” states. All of the last 26 speeches to colleges were in states that are critical to his reelection. …
Even more telling about Chicago’s concern over a dip in the youth vote for the President this year, Obama has largely avoided mentioning the economy during his campus stops. Just like he’s avoided meeting with his Jobs Council for six months, Obama has instead focused on telling students about ObamaCare and student loan aid.
Our national debt just topped $16 trillion this week — so get it together, youths. Who’s going to pay for that, do you suppose? We are. Don’t let President Obama dangling free contraception, student-loan repayment help, and renewable energy projects (all of which, by the way, you’re going to end up paying for in the long run, anyways) in your face distract you from the real issues. There’s only one party that’s been focused like a laser on our debt, entitlement reform, jobs, and the economy (hint: It ain’t the Democrats, either).