New poll numbers show that President Obama has suffered massive erosion in enthusiasm among voters under 30, dropping from 81 percent in November 2008 to 48 percent this month. Young voters, who were crucial to Obama’s election and are even more crucial to his re-election, have unemployment rates sharply higher than the national average.
Obama rode into the White House in 2008 on a wave of hopeful young voters under 30. Three years later, though, that hope has waned and Obama must figure out how to again galvanize the youth vote if he expects to win re-election in 2012.
The major disillusionment for voters under 30 regarding Obama’s presidency has been the dismal economy. Currently voters between the ages of 20 and 24 are dealing with approximately a 14 percent unemployment rate, about five percentage points higher than the national average. Many students graduating today will graduate with more debt and less job opportunities.
Therefore, the same group that came out in ardent support for Obama is now being hit the hardest by the economy.
In contrast, under President Bush in August of 2007, the unemployment number in that same age range was 8.4 percent.
The Pew Research Center found in a survey released this month that just 48 percent of young voters - those 18 to 29 years old - say Obama makes them feel hopeful. In Nov. 2008 that number was at 81 percent.
According to The New York Times, young people are still more inclined to vote for Obama over any of the GOP candidates. However, they are less inclined to “jump back into the trenches” and be a full force for the Obama campaign like they were in 2008.
In contrast, Obama’s former campaign manager, David Plouffe, wrote in his book “The Audacity to Win,” that 95 percent of the 2008 campaign’s employees were under thirty.
Yet Jim Messina, Obama’s campaign manager, seems unfazed by these statistics. He told the New York Times that there had been eight million voters aged 18-21 who had registered to vote since the last election and that most of them were Democrats.
“Their brothers and sisters started it, and they are going to finish it,” Mr. Messina said Monday. “They are storming into our office. Our volunteer numbers are up from where we thought they would be.”
Alyssa Farah, Communications Director for the College Republican National Committee, says it is no wonder that young voters are less engaged with Obama now because they are the ones most hurt by his “disastrous economic policies.”
“The hope and change [the youth was] promised didn’t pan out. Most young people can tell you stories of friends they have who graduated college with bachelors degrees they poured tens of thousands of dollars into, only to be forced to move back in with their parents and take jobs well below the paygrade they expected with a degree,” Farah told The Christian Post.
However, the lack of enthusiasm for Obama does not mean the youth will vote for the GOP candidate. In fact, the youth may be more inclined to simply not vote at all as they appear to have grown more cynical about the value of their vote. According to The Boston Globe, 73 percent of young voters thought that voting gave them a voice in the government in 2008. Now, only 63 percent feel their vote is being heard.
Although, that does not mean the GOP is not trying to capitalize on this reduction in enthusiasm.
“Young people must act and that means showing up at the polls. Many on the Right and Left underestimate young people. But we are feeling the pain of this administration’s policies and with the right education on the key issues going into 2012, young people will vote Right,” Farah said.
However, in order for the GOP to capture the young vote, the candidates will have to start speaking the language of the youth.
“I would encourage all the GOP candidates to focus on jobs and the economy. President Obama has one of the worst jobs records of any modern president and has left young people coming out of college going into a sinking job market. His overly-regulatory policies, Keynesian approach to spending and short-sighted solutions have left young people in the cold,” Farah added.