In the 2008 election, President Obama carried 66 percent of the youth vote. Four years later, his margin appears to be down.
According to a CIRCLE poll, a project of Tufts University, the president wins the youth vote 53 percent to Mitt Romney’s 35 percent — a 13-point drop from 2008.
“We firmly believe that the millennial vote will actually determine the 2012 election nationally,” Paul T. Conway, president of Generation Opportunity, a grassroots organization, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
“I’ve noticed a trend in the last four years of students taking their political opinions and moving them from the left to the right,” John Paul Cassil, a student at Clemson University told The DC News Foundation. “Students are not fans of Obama where they used to be. …they’ve had a complete turnaround and they’re not supporting him any more.”
“[There are] 1.7 million young adults who the Labor Department would say have dropped out of the work force,” Conway, a former official in the Bush administration’s the Department of Labor, said. “We actually think that they are actively looking for work, they just can’t find full time opportunities.”
“If you were to include them in the monthly number, you’d get a non seasonally adjusted overall unemployment number of 16.6 percent — That’s the highest sustained level since WWII,” he said, agreeing that the high unemployment rate has reengaged young adult voters.
The youth voter demographic is comprised of people aged 18 to 29. About 46 million people in this age group are eligible to vote this election cycle making up 7.5 percent of the total eligible voter population, according to CIRCLE.
Youth voter turnout is typically at least 15 percent points less than that of older voters. In 2008, which, by historical comparison, was a high voting year, 51.1 percent of 18-29 year-olds turned out to vote, compared to 67 percent of voters 30 and older. The voter turn out for 18-24 year-olds is even lower at 48. 5 percent, based on Census Current Population Survey numbers.
Young adult voter turnout was even less in 2000 and 2004, at a rate of about 40 percent, compared to the 60 percent rate of the 30+ voter bloc.
Stats differ with how many youth will come out to vote Tuesday. CIRCLE estimates 54.6 percent of youth voters are extremely likely to vote, with two thirds (67.3) very likely, or extremely likely to vote. Generation Opportunity estimates 76 percent of registered millennials are likely to vote.
These voters have some reason for discontent. While 63 percent of millenials have college degrees, only 51 percent report having full time jobs, with 4 in 10 saying they did not need their college degree for the work they are doing, according to a Rutgers survey.
Generation Opportunity’ found an overwhelming 84 percent of young people reported delaying making major life decisions, such as marriage, starting a family or buying a home, due to the state of the current economy.
“They are actually living an national issue. 17 percent of [America's] young, creative capital is on the sidelines,” Conway told TheDC News Foundation. “This is one savvy electorate, and they are going to hold people accountable.”
“You hear the White House purposely messaging on lowering the student loan interest rate,” Conway said, but polling from his organization tell a different story.
“Sixty-four percent of millennials said what’s more important to them upon graduation is a full time meaningful job, not a lower student loan interest rate,” Conway said. “In a sense, that’s very common sense because you can’t repay any loan if you don’t have a full time job. But that’s not convenient for the president and his team to talk about right now.”
“The true historic fact here has already been written — which is that a person who ran for president on the promise of hope and change for young Americans has now lost almost 14 or 15 percent of his support with them. That is an amazing number,” Conway added.
The president is still expected to win a majority among younger voters.
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