One Year Later: The Collapse of the Youth Vote by Gregory Hilton–

The 2008 Obama victory would have been a monumental landslide if voting had been restricted to those under the age of 30.


In another ominous sign for the Democratic Party, the much heralded youth vote of 2008 is collapsing. The Presidential election turned out 52% of young voters, and in the 18-25 age group they preferred Barack Obama over John McCain by a 66 to 32% margin.
Survey research data now demonstrates that the enthusiasm of young voters has tanked, and this is already being reflected at the polls. The percentage of young people voting in the recent elections in Massachusetts, Virginia and New Jersey declined markedly.
In the Bay State only 15% of those between the ages of 18-29 turned out to vote on Tuesday, which is a sharp reduction from the 47.8% turnout out in 2008. Obama won 78% of under-30 voters in Massachusetts. Turnout on Tuesday for those over 30 was 57%.
The youth turnout in the 2009 Virginia and New Jersey Gubernatorial races was 17 and 19%, respectively. There are several reasons for the decline but perhaps they realize their generation will be paying off today’s spending spree by the Obama Administration and the U.S. Congress. Not only will they have debts well into the future, but they can not find a job. Youth unemployment is a staggering 53%, a rate which has not been seen since the Great Depression.
Furthermore, if the Obama health care bill is enacted, according to WellPoint, their premiums will increase 154%. Young voters will be headed for a rude awakening because their premiums will be used to pay for everyone else’s pre-existing conditions. The insurance plan I had in my early twenties was inexpensive, but that option will not be available for today’s young people.
Half of young Americans are now going without health insurance.
They are typically just starting careers and have limited disposable income. The huge boost in twenty something premiums means even more of them will be uninsured, but that would have to change in 2013 when the Obama penalties arrive and young people are forced to buy insurance.
A year ago the young thought only the rich would be paying more for new government programs. His rhetoric appealed to young people especially when he called for “A nation healed. A world repaired. An America that believes again.”
The President’s approval ratings have fallen significantly in all age groups, but the drop among young voters has been the sharpest for any age demographic. Furthermore, many economists are not predicting a return to full employment in the near future. They are emphasizing that with new technology, businesses have learned to become more efficient and are now able complete their work with fewer employees. By the time America emerges from the recession many of these companies will be able to operate adequately at a downsized level. That is not a good sign for young people who are seeking jobs.
On a related note, every survey indicates young votes give a very low priority to social issues. A survey sponsored by the Young Republican National Federation showed only 6 percent of young party activists thought the GOP should focus on social issues. Economic issues are clearly dominate with the young, with national security concerns coming in second.
Don Peck writing in The Atlantic says people between 18 and 30 were overindulged as children and harbor a sense of entitlement. They are ill-prepared for a “harsh economic environment,” and lack the persistence and imagination to cope well. Their unemployment rate is 37%, and only 41% have a full time job. Over a third are receiving financial help from their families. According to a Pew Foundation study of 50,000 people in the this age group, just 2% of them served in the military, 2/5’s have tattoo’s, and 75% have a Facebook profile. Robert Samuelson in the Washington Post notes, “More bad news may lie ahead. As baby boomers retire, higher federal spending on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid may boost millennials’ taxes and squeeze other government programs. It will be harder to start and raise families.
“They could become the chump generation. They could suffer for their elders’ economic sins, particularly the failure to confront the predictable costs of baby boomers’ retirement. This poses a question. In 2008, they voted 2-1 for Barack Obama; in surveys, they say they’re more disposed than older Americans to big and activist government. Their ardor for Obama is already cooling. Will higher taxes dim their enthusiasm for government?”

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