Election 2014: GOP Has Midterm Engagement Advantage
The Politico reports this morning that a key voting bloc crucial to Democrat election and re-election plans is increasingly losing interest in voting, which could spell disaster for the left – especially in key midterm election years like this one (bolded emphasis added by me):
A new poll holds some grim omens for Democrats in this year’s midterm elections: young voters have dwindling interest in the November races, and the ones who do plan to cast ballots are more likely to vote Republican.
According to the poll, conducted by Harvard’s Institute of Politics and released Tuesday, just 23 percent of voters aged 18 to 29 say they will definitely vote in the midterms. That’s an 11 percent drop from the last time the survey was taken — five months ago — and the lowest recorded number since the poll was established more than a decade ago.
Democrats, who are waging an uphill battle to protect their Senate majority and to win control of the House of Representatives, are trying to mobilize the coalition of young, minority and female voters that helped President Barack Obama win a second term in 2012.
But midterm elections are typically dominated by a group of older and whiter voters, making the challenge a steep one for the party, which has been on the defensive thanks in part to Republican attacks on Obamacare and a flood of spending by outside conservative groups.
According to the poll, interest among the so-called “millennials” is even lower than at a similar point in the 2010 midterms, when Democrats suffered a blowout. According to Harvard IOP’s February 2010 survey, 31 percent of voters under 30 said they would definitely be voting.
The falling youth interest in the elections correlated with their rising cynicism about politicians and declining trust in government institutions — the latter reaching historic lows for the survey.
This comes on the heels of a report yesterday from the New York Times’ “Upshot” blog which pointed out that the Democrats’ worst potential turnout problem in 2014 is North Carolina, where incumbent Senator Kay Hagan (D) – incidentally a key Senator in crafting Obamacare, which caused 473,000 North Carolinians to lose their health insurance plans – is facing an uphill fight in her battle to win a second term to the US Senate. The article also reminded that the key reason Hagan won in 2008 by 8 points was due entirely to the youth vote:
When young voters stay home, the state reverts to its Republican past and the more conservative bent of the South. And judging from the last midterm election, the plunge in youth turnout could be huge. Eighteen- to 25-year-olds accounted for a mere 3.9 percent of voters in 2010, down from 10.4 percent of voters in 2008, according to the secretary of state’s office. Older voters jumped from 17.5 to 26.1 percent of those turning out.
Granted, 2010 was probably a worst-case picture for youth turnout; there wasn’t a competitive statewide contest and it was a bad year for Democrats. But nonwhite turnout also dropped, even beyond that caused by lower youth turnout. Combined, the consequences are potentially devastating for Democrats. Mitt Romney’s modest victory margin of 2 percentage points would have turned into a 10-point rout if the 2012 electorate had been as old and white as it was in 2010.
That’s a big problem for Ms. Hagan. She originally won her seat in 2008, when she won by a decisive 8 points. But her entire margin of victory came from voters under 30, who gave her a staggering 71 percent of their votes and represented about 17 percent of the electorate. If the voting public had been as old and white as it was in the 2010 midterms, Ms. Hagan’s share of the vote would have fallen beneath 50 percent; she still would have won, helped by a libertarian candidate, Chris Cole, who appeared to erode the vote for her Republican opponent.
No matter who Hagan’s eventual GOP opponent turns out to be, the road ahead for her is going to be up and down, winding, and brutal – in spite of her campaign ca$h advantage and increased helped from outside spending groups/SupePACS like the pro-abortion Emily’s List. All the money in the world, all the dodging, weaving, and deflecting – and seriously lame attempts at ignoring the issue – can’t and won’t erase the fact that she shares in the responsibility of foisting the so-called “Affordable Care Act” onto the American people – specifically, the voters of North Carolina who she claims to represent. Jobs have been lost, full time status for many has been bumped down to part time, and as I noted earlier hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians lost health insurance plans they liked – all of this because of Obamacare. Add the growing youth dissatisfaction with politicians and the political process in general to this and you get a super-high hurdle Hagan may not be able to successfully jump over on the way to the finish line come November.