The Democrats’ long-standing advantage among younger voters seems to be waning, according to recent polls and the results of the June 5 Wisconsin election.
Republican Gov. Scott Walker won a majority of votes cast by people younger than 25, and halved the Democrat’s 10-point advantage among voters younger than 30, according to rough exit polls.
The under-30 voters comprised 16 percent of the Wisconsin turnout.
The latest evidence of possible conservative progress comes from a new survey of 805 voters younger than 25, which was funded by Students for Life of America, a pro-life group.
The survey showed that conservatives can win a much larger share of the youth vote, even though President Barack Obama still has a strong lead over Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney — 53 percent to 25 percent.
That’s down from Obama’s 66 percent support in 2008.
Few of these would-be voters now are paying attention to the race, but 49 percent think Obama is doing a “fair” or poor” job, according to the poll, which was conducted by the polling company inc./WomanTrend.
Progressives argue that most younger voters are alienated by socially conservative policies.
Several conservative groups, however, are trying to win younger voters over to conservatives free market, small-government policies, amid record unemployment, debts and deficits.
Federal data shows that at least 16 percent of younger workers are formally unemployed.
These conservative outreach groups include Generation Opportunity and Crossroads Generation, which spent $50,000 on ads aimed at younger swing voters in several swing-states.
Crossroads Generation is a offshoot of American Crossroads, and includes the Young Republican National Federation and Republican State Leadership Committee.
“Many young voters who supported Obama in 2008 find themselves now facing a brutal economy, debt, and a need to move into their parent’s basement to make ends meet,” said Kristen Soltis, a survey researcher working for Crossroads Generation.
“This year, young voters can choose a different path. It’s critical for Republicans to have a conversation with young Americans about that alternative path, and that conversation starts today,” she said.
“This demographic … is fully in play in a way that most folks a year ago weren’t predicting,” Paul Conway, the founder of Generation Opportunity, told The Daily Caller in June.
But conservatives have a long way to go.
The Students for Life poll showed Obama’s support at 53 percent, down from 64 percent estimated in April poll by Gallup.
Still, even that 64 percent is down slightly from 66 percent support for Obama in 2008.
Moreover, Obama’s advantage may be muted by a relatively low turnout. Only 60 percent of under-30 year-olds are registered, and only 56 percent of registered youths said they will definitely vote in 2012, said the Gallup poll.
The Wisconsin result bolstered conservatives’ hopes.
The Students for Life group sent 17 people into the state where they visited 10,000 houses to “educate people about where candidates stand,” said Kristan Hawkins, executive director of Students for Life of America, which works with 720 groups at 250 campuses.
The Students for Life survey shows that many of the voters are receptive to conservative messages, she said.
Forty-two percent of the respondents said they would be less likely to support a politician “who supports forcing institutions to pay for procedures that violate their conscience or religious beliefs,” said the poll. That’s relevant because of the president’s February decision to require religious groups to either retreat from charitable work or follow federal regulations requiring free contraceptives for their employees.
Younger voters are split on abortion, with 45 percent labeling themselves as “pro-choice,” and 44 percent as “pro-life.” Only 27 percent said “abortion should only be legal in the cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother,” said the poll.
The survey reported that nearly three-quarters of young voters “support making sex-selective abortions illegal in the United States.”
That reaction shows “the ballot test may narrow if the President’s personal popularity is tempered with a remembrance of his radical voting record from the not-too-distant past,” said the 45-question survey.
“We wanted to have a practical, not political, conversation with this generation,” said Hawkins. “This generation is very diverse… we’re seeing the tide turning in this generation on these big issues, especially abortion.”