Young Folk These Days

17 Nov

18-to-29 year old’s not only favored President Barack H. Obama in 2012, but the thirty-somethings that voted for Obama in 2008 stayed loyal. Tyler Kingkade lays out the damage for the aging Republican party.

Voters from ages 18 to 29 represented 19 percent of all those who voted on Tuesday, according to the early National Exit Poll conducted by Edison Research. That’s an increase of one percentage point from 2008. Obama captured 60 percent youth vote, compared with Mitt Romney’s 36 percent.

Headlines suggested a lack of enthusiasm among college students in this election and polling showed fewer were registered or planning to vote.

“The role young people would play during this election has been a major question in American politics for over a year, and it seems the answer is that they have been as big a force at the polls in 2012 as in 2008,” said Peter Levine, director of the youth research organization CIRCLE at Tufts University. “They again supported President Obama, although not as lopsidedly as in 2008. Until tomorrow, it will be unclear whether youth turnout — or the turnout of any group — rose or fell, but young people were proportionately well represented in the 2012 electorate.”

Obama’s 60 percent to 36 percent victory among young people this year is smaller than his 66 percent-31 percent win over John McCain in 2008. But it is still the highest any Democratic presidential candidate scored in 30 years among 18- to 29 year-olds. John Kerry, for instance, only won the youth vote by 9 percentage points in 2004. Young people made up 17 percent of the electorate in 2004, when Kerry was defeated by President George W. Bush.

Kristen Soltis sees this disaster for gerontocracy as a wake-up call.

The solution to these problems is not for the party to pack up its tent and move it a few feet to the left or the right on the ideological spectrum. The challenge to Republicans and conservatives today is to answer the question: How do our policies make everyone better off? How do we solve the problems we face in the modern era? And how do we tell that message to others?

Less than two weeks before the election, President Obama gave an interview to MTV on issues that matter to young voters. Entrepreneurship is a goal of many young Americans, and the president was asked what his policies would do to help young people start their own business. His response was excellent. He talked about how he had rolled back financial regulation to make it easier for small investors to contribute online to projects so that people could seek crowd-funding to jumpstart their ideas.

He gave a concrete, fresh solution for a real problem people face, and it was based in conservative principles: empowering individuals to drive innovation rather than government, peeling back harmful regulation, giving investors more freedom with private funds. It’s a problem when our opponent can explain how to apply our ideas better than we can.

The longer term question is, though, are younger voters more conservative than Democratic loyalists?

 

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