President Obama is no longer “hip”
Is the President no longer the hip vote for young voters? That’s what Elise Jordan at the National Review seems to think anyways.
President Obama’s got problems for 2012. Sure, he just hauled in a record $86 million in cash. But the fundraising success masks a very big issue: Obama has lost the youth vote — he just isn’t trendy any more. Which is good news for Republicans: President Untrendy gives us a better chance to win. As a generation of media-encouraged Obama idealists has turned economic realists, Republicans can appeal to this age bracket to take the prize next year.
Political campaigns have historically discounted the importance of the youth vote — for good reason, generally, as young voters have tended not to show up on Election Day. Obama has changed that dynamic, perhaps permanently. The Millennial generation, meaning 18-to-29-year-olds — whom I wrote about a few weeks back — mattered in the 2008 election because Obama’s campaign recognized and exploited them. His campaign team engaged them through ground-breaking use of social media and grassroots outreach. It worked. Youth voted for Obama by a margin of 2 to 1, and 3 million more new voters visited the polls than in 2004. The Millennials accounted for 18 percent of the vote, and it was the third consecutive presidential election with increased youth turnout.
Her numbers seem indisputable, at least when it comes to youth turnout. We know approximately how many say they voted for Obama as well, though it’s possible that more voted for another candidate and told pollsters they voted for Obama because it was cool. I don’t think that’s particularly likely however.
However, does that mean they’ve turn from Obama? Jordan’s evidence:
When Obama spoke at the University of Maryland on Friday, student Jerome Lincolns explained how his attitude toward the president had shifted since Obama last visited the campus in 2009. “He’s like a new car: First it’s really awesome, and then you realize it’s a lot like the other cars,” Lincolns told USA Today.
Last month, a youth-advocacy group called Generation Opportunity released a bunch of very telling statistics. Headed up by a former Bush-administration official, Paul Conway, the group polled 600 likely voters in the Millennial age group. My key take-away from their findings: It’s the Obama economy, stupid.
Although young voters were embraced by the Obama campaign, they haven’t felt the same love from the Obama administration. Almost three-quarters of those surveyed by Generation Opportunity say the current administration fails to serve their generation. Less than a third approve of the president’s approach to youth unemployment. Over three-quarters have already put off, or expect to put off, a major life change or purchase because of the poor economy. Just under half are waiting to buy a home, and 27 percent are waiting to go back to school. Around one-quarter are delaying starting a family, and 18 percent are holding off on marriage.
However, the question that doesn’t seem to be asked is why do these people feel that way? For example, if they feel that the President is failing them because he has to deal with Republicans, then he’s still ahead of the game. I don’t think that’s likely in the least, but it’s at least something to think about.
Jordan goes on to say that most Republicans seem resigned to a second Obama term. When you look at a lot of the candidates for the GOP nomination, it’s easy to see why they would feel that way. I’m not so sure they should though. Obama’s approval rating hasn’t been so hot lately, and if that trend continues then there’s a real shot for the right candidate. Who is that right candidate? Well, we’ll just have to see. My money is on either Gary Johnson or Ron Paul, but I’m sort of biased on that one.