Obama risks millions of youth votes due to economy, debate performance

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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Sinking Democratic support and waning political engagement among young people might cost President Barack Obama several million votes in November, according to a survey released Monday by the Pew Research Center.

Following Wednesday’s presidential debate, Obama’s support dropped from 65 percent to 58 percent among voters younger than 30, the survey found.

Pew determined that Romney’s support in the same demographic rose from 32 percent to 42 percent last week.

“The president has lost a significant amount of political support and enthusiasm among 18-to-29 year-olds,” said Paul T. Conway, president of Generation Opportunity, a right-of-center group trying to increase youth turnout.

“Romney has the opportunity to further connect” because younger voters are more focused on jobs and less interested in voting on charisma than they were in 2008, Conway added.

Reduced turnout among those young voters will likely cost Obama several million votes, according to an analysis by Generation Opportunity.

In 2008, Obama won 14.9 million youth ballots, or 66 percent of the youth vote, which comprised 18 percent of the total turnout of 125.2 million voters.

If Obama wins 53 percent of the 2012 youth vote, and youth turnout drops to 17 percent of a slightly larger electorate of 129 million voters, he will only receive 11.3 million ballots, based on the group’s analysis.

Moreover, many of Obama’s lost votes will switch over to Romney, the analysis found. Obama’s struggles with youth voters are in line with the poor economy.

September jobs data showed that 11.8 of younger would-be workers are unemployed, with another 4.8 percent stuck in part-time jobs.

Only “29% of Millennials believe that the economic policies coming out of Washington are helping them, while 47% of Millennials say that the economic policies coming out of Washington are hurting them,” according to a July poll conducted for Generation Opportunity by the polling company inc./WomanTrend.

“If you were at 66 percent [in 2008], and you’re sitting between 49 percent and 54 percent, you’ve got a major problem,” Conway said.

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