Youth vote not as starry-eyed for Obama as they were in 2008

The NYT reports on the continued troubles the Obama campaign is having with re-energizing the youth vote for the November elections:

In the four years since President Obama swept into office in large part with the support of a vast army of young people, a new corps of men and women have come of voting age with views shaped largely by the recession. And unlike their counterparts in the millennial generation who showed high levels of enthusiasm for Mr. Obama at this point in 2008, the nation’s first-time voters are less enthusiastic about him, are significantly more likely to identify as conservative and cite a growing lack of faith in government in general, according to interviews, experts and recent polls.

Polls show that Americans under 30 are still inclined to support Mr. Obama by a wide margin. But the president may face a particular challenge among voters ages 18 to 24. In that group, his lead over Mitt Romney — 12 points — is about half of what it is among 25- to 29-year-olds, according to an online survey this spring by the Harvard Institute of Politics.  And among whites in the younger group, Mr. Obama’s lead vanishes altogether.

Among all 18- to 29-year-olds, the poll found a high level of undecided voters; 30 percent indicated that they had not yet made up their mind. And turnout among this group is expected to be significantly lower than for older voters.

“The concern for Obama, and the opportunity for Romney, is in the 18- to 24-year-olds who don’t have the historical or direct connection to the campaign or the movement of four years ago,” said John Della Volpe, director of polling at the Harvard Institute of Politics. “We’re also seeing that these younger members of this generation are beginning to show some more conservative traits. It doesn’t mean they are Republican. It means Republicans have an opportunity.”

Experts say the impact of the recession and the slow recovery should not be underestimated. The newest potential voters — some 17 million people — have been shaped more by harsh economic times in their formative years than by anything else, and that force does not tend to be galvanizing in a positive way.

For 18- and 19-year-olds, the unemployment rate as of May was 23.5 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For those ages 20 to 24, the rate falls to 12.9 percent, compared with the national unemployment rate of 8.2 percent for all ages. The impact of the recession on the young has created a disillusionment about politics in general, several experts suggested.

Aww. What a shame.

As I’ve written before, all it would take in a few of the battleground states (like NC) is a peeling off of a few percentage points of any given Democrat voter bloc to make Obama’s re-election prospects that much harder. The Obama campaign knows this, which is why they are throwing out “freebies” to Hispanics (DREAM Act pandering), the youth vote (student loan forgiveness), and are making grand overtures to women (“War On Women”).

It’s an election year, and we have a President and party desperate to re-capture the enthusiasm of the Hope and Change days back in 2008 by buying votes and demagoguing the heck out of the opposition. It’s an “any means necessary” approach that may prove to turn off the very voters who were turned on to Barack Obama by his seemingly (but not really) “positive” “hopeful” campaign (remember “we choose hope over fear”?) from 2008, where he drew people in, in part, on the basis of his mythical “messiah-like” abilities to “perform miracles” for America – miracles that, as we all know, have not been realized on his watch. The ballot box in November will, of course, be the ultimate indicator as to whether or not he’s able to fool a majority of the masses once again.

As they say, stay tuned.

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