The Youth Vote: Can Obama Re-create 2008’s Magic?

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Election Day 2008 will always be remembered for Americans’ voting the first African-American President of the United States into office. But it was also historic for another reason: an estimated 22 million young Americans under the age of 30 showed up at the polls, the third highest turnout rate for young voters in the nation’s history.

Four years later, as Barack Obama addresses the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, much of that enthusiasm is gone. According to a July Gallup survey, only 58% of registered voters ages 18 to 29 said they will “definitely vote” this fall. That’s well below the 78% of young voters who said the same in the months before the 2008 election. Obama, who won voters under 30 by 34 points in 2008, needs to recapture some of that youthful energy to win his tough re-election battle.

(PHOTOS: The Obama Brand)

The President still has an advantage among young voters. A recent poll found that 18-to-29-year-olds prefer Obama to Mitt Romney by a 55%–42% margin. But turnout will be key to making that advantage a significant electoral asset.

In hopes of energizing young voters as he did four years ago, Obama set out on Road to Charlotte, a two-day tour, last Tuesday. The President stopped at college campuses in the battleground states of Iowa, Colorado and Virginia. And his team has been working directly with organizers on college campuses to gear up their efforts for November.

But the Obama campaign isn’t the only organization working to turn out young voters. Groups like Rock the Vote, which kicked off the largest nonpartisan voter-registration campaign in the country on May 2, are trying to re-create the energy of 2008 too.

(PHOTOS: The Democratic National Convention)

With an ambitious goal of registering 1.5 million new voters, Rock the Vote hopes to modernize the election system for a young, technology-savvy generation. “We have an election process that was built for a 19th century voter,” says Heather Smith, the group’s president. Rock the Vote is now able to register voters from computers and mobile devices. It’s partnering with Microsoft’s Xbox and Virgin Atlantic to register people everywhere from their living rooms to 35,000 feet in the air.

There’s even a Facebook app. “The Facebook tool allows us to not just register our friends and our connections, but it allows them to become the organizer, the ambassador,” Smith says. “We used to work in neighborhoods where you knocked on doors. Now we work in networks.” Despite the technological advances, young voters may face obstacles in 2012. Several states have passed controversial laws requiring people to show a photo ID before they vote. Democrats worry that many voters from their traditional constituencies, including the youth bloc, will be turned away at the polls. The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement recently found that 68% of young people don’t know whether their state requires a photo ID to vote. Rock the Vote has planned a September concert in Pennsylvania featuring Hawaii rocker Jack Johnson to educate young people about the laws.

“Our goal is not to tell people what to do but to give them the tools to make up their mind,” Smith says. “Our collective power, if we participate, can change the direction of our country. Young people understand that.” The Obama campaign understands it too.

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73yearoldVet
73yearoldVet

The Youth Vote: Can Obama Recreate 2008′s Magic?

Not a chance.

The President's Fountain of Youth Is Drying Up

 

The Wall Street Journal, September 6, 2012

 

In 2008 young voters chose Obama over McCain by 66% to 32%. Today he leads Romney by 49% to 41%..

 

Thursday night at the Democratic convention, President Barack Obama could continue relentlessly assaulting Gov. Mitt Romney, put the best face on his own record, or offer a substantive vision for the future. But no matter what themes he emphasizes, we know his acceptance speech will target groups that propelled him to victory in 2008 and remain critical to his re-election, especially Hispanics, women and young people.

 

The good news for Mr. Obama is that he has maintained his 2008 margin among Hispanics. The bad news is that less than half (42%) of Hispanic respondents said they were "very interested" in November's election, according to an Aug. 20 NBC/WSJ/Telemundo poll.

 

The news is worse among women. Despite a summer of Democratic attacks on the GOP for waging a "war on women," the president's "unfavorable impression" rating among women is up 11 points since April to 50% unfavorable/46% favorable in this week's ABC/Washington Post poll.

 

This has depressed his overall favorable/unfavorable rating to 46%/49%, only slightly better than Mr. Romney's 43%/48%. The percentage of women with a "favorable impression" of Mr. Romney is up eight points since April.

 

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.

 

http://online.wsj.com/article/...

ERenger
ERenger

Looks like Kim Kardashian is headed to Charlotte. I think it is just for an after party, not to attend the convention, which is probably for the best. If anyone could deliver a youth-oreinted version of Clint's crazy talk, it would be Kim. 

deconstructiva
deconstructiva

If K-Dash shows up at the convention she'd better keep Kanye on a leash ...especially if Taylor Swift shows up to speak, else he might try to take the microphone or podium away from her.

ERenger
ERenger

Nightmare scenario:

Yo, Obama! I'm really happy for you, and Imma let you finish. But Abe Lincoln was the best president of all time! All time, yo! 

shepherdwong
shepherdwong

"Election Day 2008 will always be remembered for voting the first African-American President of the United States into office."

It was pretty magical all right. But you can only do it once.

73yearoldVet
73yearoldVet

I thought he was bi-racial and had been raised by his white family?

sacredh
sacredh

The first female President is going to be pretty special too.

pollardty
pollardty

Clinton/Warren 2016?

shepherdwong
shepherdwong

I hate to say it but, I don't think the country will elect a nearly 70-year-old woman as president, no matter how qualified or accomplished. Maybe not even a 70-year-old man at this point. Good bet that she's had the good sense to decide not run, just as she has said.

pollardty
pollardty

She'll be 70. In my experience woman age differently than men. If she is healthy mentally and physically I'd be happy with only 4 years and then 8 more of Warren.

sacredh
sacredh

How old is Hillary. I love the woman but she'll be fairly advanced in age in 2016. Did anyone else notice Bill's shaking hands last night?

sacredh
sacredh

The youth vote could very well be a key demographic in some swing states. Obama still has to pick up only a couple of the swing states to hit 270 electoral votes. Romney almost has to sweep them.

73yearoldVet
73yearoldVet

sac,

Not true any more.

According to RCP

Electoral College 9/5/2012

 

Obama – 221---- Toss Ups – 126 --- Romney – 191

 

Winning possible combinations

 

Obama 171

Romney 161

Tie ………32

5 states have moved away from Obama and towards Romney since May.

 NV -- leaning Obama……………Toss Up

AZ –- Toss Up………………………..Leaning Romney

MO –Toss Up………………………..Leaning Romney

WI –- Leaning Obama……………Toss Up

MI –- Leaning Obama……………Toss Up

The momentum is moving in favor of Romney.

pollardty
pollardty

Romney and PACs are pulling ad monies from Pennsylvania and Michigan. Mmmmmm?

pollardty
pollardty

How many "home States" will Mitt lose?  

California  

Mass.  

Michigan   

New hampshire

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

 I'm sure he will sweep in the Barbados and other Tax Havens

sacredh
sacredh

I really didn't think they had a chance in either state. I'm very doubtful about Wisconsin too. If the give up on Ohio or Virginia, they may as well save their money for next time.

sacredh
sacredh

I'll admit defeat if Romney hits 270 electoral votes. What I won't do is claim that if my side loses that we're still "The vast majority".

73yearoldVet
73yearoldVet

Ha, ha. Dream on. Romney is gaining, Obama is losing.

I guess liberals won't admit defeat even if Romney wins by a landslide.

pollardty
pollardty

My hope is that a wave election will push the cranks and bigots back into the shadows. Turn out will be key.