Survey: Women, youth drift away from Obama

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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A critical bloc of Democratic-aligned voters has lurched away from President Barack Obama’s campaign and won’t come back until Democrats develop a new “narrative,” warns a new survey by a Democratic polling firm.

The bloc of “unmarried women, people of color, and younger voters — comprises a rapidly growing majority of the eligible voting population in this country … [but they] are not hearing an economic narrative that speaks to their problems and concerns or convinces them that their leaders have the ability to solve those problems,” says the Aug. 24 report titled “Creating a New Economic Narrative; Engaging the Rising American Electorate for 2012.”

Other Democratic advocates corroborate the survey’s data. For example, AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka said Wednesday that fewer working-class voters will turn out in 2012 unless Obama can persuade them that their votes can change government policy. “Give them the narrative about why it will work,” he said at a press breakfast sponsored by The Christian Science Monitor.

Republicans advocates say they’re winning over women, youth and blue-collar voters partly because Obama’s government-focused economic policies have failed to reduce the unemployment rate.

Meanwhile, the Obama campaign’s Project Vote effort says it will work to “engage key demographic groups, such as African Americans, Women, Youth, Latinos, LGBT, Veterans, Asian Americans and others.”

These voters are especially valuable to the Obama campaign because many have not registered or voted before, giving the campaign a change to increase its tallies amid expected losses among older and white voters.

The Obama campaign sketched out its strategy for winning these “Project Vote” groups and for getting them to register for the ballot. “Project Vote will communicate with and engage targeted constituencies by reaching them where they are, in their communities and neighborhoods, and having one-on-one grassroots conversations about the issues they care about most – jobs, health care and education,” the statement said.

The survey of 1,480 likely “Rising American Electorate” voters was completed in early August by Washington, D.C.-based Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research for Democracy Corps, a Democratic research group, and for the Women’s Voices, Women Vote Action Fund.

“This is a real challenge … unmarried women and young voters continue to indicate strong support for Obama and the Democrats heading into next year, but a stronger economic rationale is needed to ensure they turn out and support traditional allies who support their public policy agenda,” said the report, which did not attempt to offer a vision that would mobilize these voters.

The decline has already damaged the Democrats. The RAE voters gave 69 percent of their vote to Obama in 2010, but only 60 percent to Democrats in 2010, said the report.

In August, the RAE group leaned towards Democrats by 27 percentage points, but only gave Democrats a 12-point advantage “on whether Democrats or Republicans would do a better job on the economy,” said the report.

Among all unmarried women, the Democratic advantage has declined from 40 points in 2008 to 28 points in August, said the report. The advantage among white unmarried women has dropped from 20 points to a mere 4 points. In 2010, white unmarried women broke for the GOP by 8 points.

The Democratic advantage among youth was 30 percent in 2008, but has dropped to 16 points in August. Their advantage among white youths was 13 points in 2008, but is now a disadvantage of 5 points, said the report.

The report’s numbers also suggest that these RAE voters may not vote as much as they did in 2008. Only 22 percent of the RAE group is “extremely interested” in the pending election, compared to 32 percent of other people.