Friday, October 26, 2012

A Choice for a NEW New Generation

Twice a year, the Harvard University Institute of Politics does a survey of young voters, of what it terms the Millennial Generation. From 2000 until 2008, the ages of those surveyed was limited to 18-24 year olds. In 2010, the range was expanded to 18-29 year olds.

Not unexpectedly, the current (Fall 2012) survey shows a pronounced preference for President Obama. The same is true of the study from the Fall of 2008, when younger voters helped Obama secure a relatively easy victory over Senator John McCain. But it is useful to see how some of the numbers have changed.

From 2012:
At the time the IOP’s new fall poll was conducted, 18- to 29- year old “likely” voters gave President Obama a nineteen-percentage point (19%) lead over Governor Romney (55%: Obama; 36%: Romney)...Obama leads Romney among 18- to 24- year olds by twelve points (41%-29%) and 25- to 29- year olds by 23 points (46%-23%)...18- to 29- year olds favoring Governor Romney are more likely (65%) than those favoring President Obama (55%) to say they will “definitely” vote this fall.
From 2008 (remember, this is limited to 18-24 year-olds):
Just weeks before Election Day, Senator Obama holds a twenty-six point lead (56%-30%; 15% undecided) over Senator McCain in the 2008 presidential race, a lead that has remained virtually unchanged since July (55%-32%) and March (53%-32%) 2008 IOP polling. Obama’s lead grows slightly among young people saying they will “definitely” be voting (59%-, 31%).
First, there is the straight forward percentages for "likely voters." In 2008, Obama led McCain by 26 points. Now, in 2012, Obama's lead  over Romney is 19, seven points less than in 2008. Then there's the matter of the added age groups in 2012. If we only consider 18-24 year olds from both periods, Obama's advantage narrows even more to 12 points, fourteen points less than in in 2008. But note the real joker in the deck: voter enthusiasm: in 2008, this favored Obama, with more of his supporters saying they would definitely vote, increasing his advantage from 26 points to 28 points. In 2012, Romney holds the edge in enthusiasm by 10 points, 65% to 55%. Factoring this into the numbers gives us a final breakdown--of 18-24 year olds only--of 23% for Obama compared to 19% for Romney. Thus, Obama's already shrunken lead of 12 points among younger voters shrinks yet again to a mere 4 points.

To make matters worse--for the President--the Harvard survey was compiled between September 19th and October 3rd, a period when Obama still enjoyed a comfortable advantage in the national polls. It wasn't until October 9th that Romney surged ahead in the RCP averages. Thus, the Harvard data fails to take into account what has since transpired. If we allow the existence of a similar trend among 18-24 years olds, it is very possible that Obama's advantage has completely evaporated. Indeed, Romney could easily be ahead in this age group.

Why? What's happened to the youth vote, the groups that was so overwhelmingly on Obama's side in 2008? Well first and foremost, we're not talking about the same people, by and large. Most of the voters now in this group were not even voting in 2008. It has been an accepted truth for quite some time that the Obama Administration and Obama Campaign--along with Democrats in general--are more "dialed in" to young people, that they are better at online politicking, have a superior presence on social networking sites, and are simply cooler, enjoying more support from celebrities and the like.

But it would seem--going the route of Occam's Razor--that the true younger voters are no longer buying into this dog and pony show, as it were. Perhaps it's a consequence of the rebellious nature of youth: kids not willing to follow in lock-step with the generation immediately ahead of them, not willing to let the now-older young voters from 2008 tell them what is cool and what is not cool. Perhaps it's the influence of parents, in particular those parents who supported Obama in 2008 but have since switched allegiances (and make no mistake, there are a lot of these people out there).

Or maybe--just maybe--the barrage of information available now is actually creating a few critical thinkers, who--though young--are able to tell when they are being sold a bogus bill of goods, who see the real state of the nation and worry for their own immediate future, not to mention that of their future children. They've been dependents all of their lives and now--just when they are ready to finally become independent--they're faced with a stark choice for the nation's future, with one side telling them they can't be independent, that they need someone (government) to lean on. Always. And many of them know there's something wrong with that, they want to live, to be free to choose, not to simply rely...

Cheers, all.

1 comment:

  1. Wouldn't young America value freedom more than older folks? Parental angle interesting. Parents bought hope and change, then one or both got pink slips. Time to vote for the party of work? Big Bird, 47%, binders & Romnesia? Any mildly sentient person should be able to see how shallow that rhetoric is. Is snark a policy? Try it in a job interview. I'm sure the results would not be good.