The Daily Caller

The Daily Caller
U.S. President Barack Obama pauses while speaking at the White House Youth Summit on the Affordable Care Act in Washington December 4, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque U.S. President Barack Obama pauses while speaking at the White House Youth Summit on the Affordable Care Act in Washington December 4, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque  

Will young voters abandon Democrats? Don’t hold your breath

Photo of Dan Joseph
Dan Joseph
Video Reporter, Media Research Center

Recent polls show President Obama’s popularity plummeting among young voters. A Quinnipiac poll conducted in November shows that Obama’s approval rating among 18-29 years olds has fallen to a staggering 36 percent. This stunning drop among a demographic that gave Obama 66 percent of their vote in 2008, helping him coast to the presidency, has conservatives in a triumphant mood.

In light of these polling results many conservatives have concluded that young voters have finally witnessed the dangers of big government liberalism first-hand, and are now rethinking their allegiance to the Democratic Party.

But this rosy reading of polls is a mistake. A mistake that conservatives have made before.

In 2011, there was a similar, if less pronounced drop in support for Obama among young voters. Many Conservatives were convinced that Millennials were finally waking up from their snake-oil induced “Hope and Change” coma, and that they would undoubtedly abandon Obama in the 2012 election.

Yet, Obama ended up winning 60 percent of the 18-29 demographic. It was a slight drop from his 2008 numbers, but still a historically dominant performance.

The discrepancy between Obama’s 2011 approval ratings and his ultimate margin of victory among young voters in 2012 proves that Republicans miscalculated.

Their primary mistake was assuming that young voters make decisions based on the same value system as more mature adults. Republican analysts incorrectly assumed that young voters have their own long term interests in mind when making voting decisions.

The theory was that dissatisfaction with the economic performance of Obama’s first term was leading Millennials to wake up and realize that they were going to be the ones that had to pay for all of the new entitlement spending that Obama was racking up. When Obama’s poll numbers dropped in 2011, that’s exactly what the conservative political class assumed was happening.

But that’s not what was happening at all.

Young voters were indeed upset about the economy, but unlike conservatives they did not necessarily associate that stagnation with liberal policies. In fact, they didn’t even necessarily blame Obama, as Obama had made a daily habit out of blaming George W. Bush for the financial crisis.

Large numbers of modern young people are either living paycheck-to-paycheck and eating ramen dinners while struggling to build a career, or relying on their parents to put them through college. Individuals in either situation see little or no reason to spend time thinking about what their economic status might be 20 years down the road. So issues like the national debt and the new entitlement burdens that will be dumped upon them when their baby boomer parents retire are highly unlikely to take precedence over what’s going on in their lives at that moment.