Surprise: Young voters “not enthusiastic” about this year’s election

Fix blogger Chris Cillizza reports on some alarming news for left wing politicos hoping to once again be able to depend on, in part, the ignorance of young liberal voters to help them win elections this year:

Less than 24 hours after President Barack Obama announced his plan to re-build the coalition that helped elect him in 2008, new numbers from Gallup suggest one of the pillars of that foundation is decidedly shaky.

Less than one in four voters aged 18-29 described themselves as “very enthusiastic” about the 2010 midterm election. Those numbers compare unfavorably to voters between 50 and 64 (44 percent “very enthusiastic”), 65 and older (41 percent “very enthusiastic”) and 30 to 49 (32 percent “very enthusiastic”).

“The fact that voters under age 50 — and particularly those under 30 — are less enthusiastic about voting this year is not a new phenomenon,” wrote Gallup’s Frank Newport. “Voter turnout typically skews older.”

While the data is in keeping with traditional voting patterns, it makes obvious the difficulty facing the White House as they seek to reconstruct the combination of young voters, independents and African Americans who helped propel Obama into the White House.

Looking back at exit polls from the last three presidential races, it’s clear that the story is not how young people comprised larger and larger segments of the electorate but rather how much more Democratic they voted between 2000 and 2008.

In each of those three elections, the number of young voters as a percentage of the overall electorate was remarkably similar: 18 percent in 2008, 17 percent in 2004 and 17 percent in 2000.

What changed was how they voted. In 2000, young voters split their votes with 48 percent choosing Al Gore and 46 percent opting for George W. Bush. Four years later John Kerry carried 18-29 year olds by a nine-point margin; Obama won them by a whopping 66 percent to 32 percent.

The Gallup data affirms the clear Democratic tilt of young voters. On a generic congressional ballot test, 51 percent of 18-29 year old vote opted for the Democratic candidate while 39 percent chose the Republican. In every other age group, the generic was either statistically tied or the GOP candidate led. (Republicans’ best age group was voters 65 and older who chose a GOP candidate by a 50 percent to 41 percent margin over a generic Democrat.)

Obama’s pitch on Monday makes clear the White House understands the necessity of motivating these voters to turn out. But, knowing that you need to turn out young voters and actually doing it are two very different things.

And more not so good news for the left: In poll after poll, Obama and his Democrat minions in Congress are losing their hold on independent voters, voters who are gradually shifting to the GOP.

I’m predicting modest gains for the GOP this fall, but if the Dems keep screwing up as spectacularly as they have over the first year + of the Obama administration, I could be underestimating what will happen in November. Jennifer Rubin comments on The Fix’s report, Obama’s caluculated attempt at “reconnecting” with black, Hispanic, female, and young voters, and weighs in with a prediction of her own:

Several things are noteworthy. First, so much for the post-racial presidency. We are back to naked pleas for racial solidarity. This comes from a man who told us that there were no Blue States or Red States, and that we should stop carving up the electorate into ethnic and racial groups. It was moving and appropriate and now it’s inoperative.

Second, this also suggests that just about everyone else in the electorate is a lost cause — whites, men, independents, and older voters. The Obama coalition has fractured — a little later than Hillary Clinton predicted, but it has. It seems he is reduced to the core left, not a recipe for successful governance or re-election.

And finally, the Democrats are in big, big trouble if they are banking on casual voters, especially young people, to turn out in large numbers in a midterm election. I’ll go out on a limb (I really don’t have to, because you can look at the turnout in New Jersey and Virginia) — the electorate in 2010 is not going to resemble the 2008 electorate. It will be older and more conservative. In other words, the Democrats are throwing a Hail Mary.

We shall see.

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