Younger Voters Disenchanted With Obama?

By Carl M. Cannon - December 16, 2011

‹‹Previous Page |1 | 2 |

In the Harvard poll, a plurality of respondents did indeed indicate pessimism about the president: 36 percent stated that they believe Obama will lose next year, while only 30 percent believe he will win re-election. Although such skepticism doesn’t necessarily correlate to future voting patterns, Della Volpe views it as a potential “leading indicator” of declining support.

Other findings in the survey included:

- Obama’s job performance rating among America’s 18- to 29-year-olds is at its lowest point since the IOP began polling on the Obama administration in 2009.

- The president still leads the generic Republican nominee in a mock matchup by six percentage points, but that lead his shrinking.

- Mitt Romney does best among the Republican presidential candidates in a general election matchup against the president, but still trails Obama by 11 points.

- Only one-third of 18- to 29-year-olds are closely following Occupy Wall Street, and even fewer -- about one-fifth -- support the movement.

This last finding helps explain why the president seems to be distancing himself from the Occupy crowd. Instead, the president’s advisers have him staging frequent “We Can’t Wait” events highlighting executive orders and other actions he’s taking on his own, a strategy designed to draw a contrast with a Congress that often tries to thwart the president’s economic initiatives.

On the tactical level, the president’s re-election team is employing next-generation technology in an attempt to reach and re-energize young supporters from four years ago, as well as old-fashioned voting drives to sign up new millennials. “There are 8 million young Americans from 18 to 21 who weren’t old enough to vote last time,” campaign manager Jim Messina reminded reporters this week. “Their brothers and sisters started this whole thing, and they’re going to finish it.”

He’s right about that, and they started it on Facebook: That’s how the boisterous 2007 George Mason University event was organized. Originally, it wasn’t even Obama’s idea -- it was the students’ themselves. But four years later, those in opposition to this president have Facebook pages of their own, and have wised up to the possibilities of marshaling the technology preferred by young Americans.

Generation Opportunity, one of the largest of the opposition groups, uses a hybrid of traditional grass-roots tactics and social media, including a Facebook page with some 2 million fans. Since June, it has been using text messages to communicate with its followers. And texting, not television ads or the telephone, is likely to be the preferred get-out-the-vote method in 2012 -- as a survey that Generation Opportunity is releasing next week underscores.

Asked which of the following would make them more likely to vote (multiple answers were accepted), the respondents said the following:

Facebook Message Reminder: 66 percent

Text Message Reminder: 58 percent

Email Reminder: 38 percent

Public Service Announcement: 28 percent

Phone Call: 13 percent

None of the Above: 12 percent (Accepted only this response)

But reaching young voters is one thing: Recapturing the unbridled optimism of 2008 in the midst of this lengthy economic stagnation and political gridlock is quite another.

“The 2008 election was when these [young] people fell in love for the first time, politically,” Della Volpe said. “The analogy I’ve been using is that Obama and the millennials fell in love, and got married. Then they moved into a big house with a mortgage, kids, and all those issues. Things change -- and if you don’t communicate well, there are problems. In the case of Obama and the under-30 generation, I don’t think either side was prepared for the next phase of the relationship. So both are disappointed.”

That’s one way to look at it. Here’s another: You often meet your “first love” in high school or perhaps college. But you don’t usually marry that person. You date them. And if things don’t work out, you break up. 

‹‹Previous Page |1 | 2 |

Carl M. Cannon is the Washington Bureau Chief for RealClearPolitics. Reach him on Twitter @CarlCannon.

A President Who Is Hearing Things
Richard Benedetto · November 12, 2014
Obama Is No Clinton
Larry Elder · November 13, 2014
Bret Stephens' Call for Robust U.S. Foreign Policy
Peter Berkowitz · November 16, 2014

Latest On Twitter