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27 September 2010

Democrats Want Young Voters, But Young Voters May Not Want Democrats

Two years ago, Barack Obama and the Democrats were crowing at the sheer number of young voters supporting them over the Republicans. A 2008 CNN exit poll showed that over sixty percent of voters between ages 18 and 29 backed Democratic candidates at the ballot box.

However, as support for Obama plummeted across the nation, fewer young voters identified themselves as Democrats according to a Pew Research Center poll.

The college vote is up for grabs this year — to an extent that would have seemed unlikely two years ago, when a generation of young people seemed to swoon over Barack Obama.

Though many students are liberals on social issues, the economic reality of a weak job market has taken a toll on their loyalties: far fewer 18- to 29-year-olds now identify themselves as Democrats compared with 2008.

Johnson, Kirk (2010-9-2). Fewer Young Voters See Themselves as Democrats. New York Times. Retrieved on 2010-9-27.


Numbers from the Pew Research Center suggested that Democrats held a 62% to 30% advantage over Republicans among young voters in 2008. Near the end of 2009 though, 54% of young voters identified themselves as Democrats while 40% identified as Republicans [Democrats' Edge Among Millennials Slips. Pew Research Center. Retrieved on 2010-9-27.].

Monday, President Obama told a group of college students:

"You can't sit it out. You can't suddenly just check in once every ten years or so on an exciting presidential election and then not pay attention during big midterm elections where we have a real big choice between Democrats and Republicans.... That is a big choice. That has big consequences. So even though this may not be as exciting as a presidential election it is going to make a huge difference in terms of whether we are going to be able to move our agenda forward over the next couple years."

Stein, Sam (2010-9-27). Obama To Young Voters: 'You Can't Sit Out' In 2010. Huffington Post. Retrieved on 2010-9-27.


So the conclusion here is simple.

Barack Obama wants young voters to come back out in 2010 to support Democratic candidates the same way they supported him in 2008. If, however, the figures from the Pew Research Center are correct, then the number of young people buying what Obama is selling may be shrinking.