Obama makes an appeal to young voters
Over the last couple weeks, it has become clear that President Barack Obama has a problem with young voters. That’s not to say that he won’t win them in the end, but perhaps not by the margin he carried them in 2008. According to a recent Gallup poll, only 59% of voters between 18-29 say they plan on voting in November:
President Obama obviously realizes this is a problem for his re-election bid. During a radio interview yesterday, Obama urged young voters to get behind his campaign:
President Obama dismissed suggestions that young voters who backed him in 2008 were less enthusiastic this election cycle, saying that he believed they wanted to “finish what we started.”
In an interview with local Washington D.C. station WJLA released Sunday, the president predicted young voters would again rally behind his presidency.
“2008, obviously your first time around in some ways it was lightning in a bottle. There were so many young people who just automatically got involved and, you know, we’ve gone through three and a half tough years. The economy is tough, especially for young people,” Obama acknowledged, according to a transcript of the interview.
A question Republicans are asking themselves right now is whether or not they can parlay some of the discontent among youth into votes for Mitt Romney. David Boaz explained back in June that Republicans should emphasize how the economic decisions that have been made under the Obama Administration puts the future of the next generation at risk. Boaz also points out that some of the administration’s policies, such as the continuing war on drugs and military involvement in Afghanistan, are also areas that will depress young voters. But Republicans don’t offer much contrast on those two issues.
Young voters, much like minorities, have been neglected by Republicans. They have been far too focused on social issues, which tends to turn off this segment of voters. But Chris Moody recently noted that there are Republicans who realize that they need to reach out and work harder to reach out to young voters:
Two groups, the Young Guns Action Fund and Maverick PAC—the latter was co-founded by George P. Bush, nephew of former President George W. Bush and son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush—will focus on finding young Republican political talent and supporting them with money. The two organizations announced a strategic partnership Tuesday that organizers hope will increase engagement with voters that were lost to Obama in 2008. One short-term goal, of course, is to narrow the enthusiasm gap between young Republicans and Democrats, but ultimately, they’re looking far beyond the next election.
“The relationship is about developing something for the long-term that looks past just this November,” YG Action Fund President John Murray told reporters during a breakfast meeting in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday. “By the midterms in 2014, perhaps we’ve made a little more progress; by the next presidential we’ve made some more progress, and [we’ve gained] … the capacity to build that over time because it’s going to take time.”
Here’s how the partnership will work: The YG Action fund, a super PAC, will scour the country looking for new young Republican House and Senate candidates. (The group is similar to, but independent from, the National Republican Congressional Committee’s “Young Guns” program.) The Action fund will support these new GOP candidates and independently bolster their campaigns. Meanwhile, MavPAC will build its own base of young, new donors and fundraising bundlers, whom they plan to connect with the new recruits. The two groups will share data based on the information they gather from new supporters. They plan to spend $5 million this election cycle on the joint project.
YG Action Fund will recruit the pilots and cover the air war, while MavPAC rallies the boots on the ground.
Organizers say they hope to make some headway with younger voters this cycle, but they aren’t promising a Republican revolution by November.
“We want to manage expectations,” said MavPac co-founder Bush. “We don’t want to say it’s going to swing 180 degrees to the other side. I think it’s worth the effort. I think to leave a complete demographic group like this uncontested is a mistake for the Republican Party.”
That’s going to be a tall order, anyway you look at it. But these guys are right, if the GOP is to have an electoral future, they have to reach out to young voters.
Photo courtesy of The New York Times