The other telltale sign of Obama’s failure was the youth vote. Democratic victories in 2006 and 2008 very much depended upon increased support from and turnout among young voters. In 2008, Obama’s organization specifically targeted these voters. In this election, voters 18 to 29 again favored Democrats by a whopping 56 to 40 percent in House races. But they constituted only 11 percent of the electorate this year compared to 18 percent in 2008 House races and 12.5 percent in 2006. Obama and his political aides recognized that this was a problem, and in the last weeks of the election, tried to rouse these voters (hence all those campus rallies and the “Daily Show” appearance). But it was too late.The natural comparison here seems to be with 2006 and the drop doesn't seem that big, particularly given anti-war issue (something that, even without the draft, would tend to skew by age) four years ago.
I LOST A REALLY LONG COMMENT WHEN I EXCEEDED AN INVISIBLE WORD LIMIT ON YOUR BLOG. BUT I'M GOING TO TYPE IT ALL OUT AGAIN - AND SAVE BEFORE HITTING "POST", THIS TIME. (I write the above in ALL CAPS as a warning to others.)ReplyDelete
No one my age (25) whom I specifically asked about this voted on Tuesday. However, they mostly didn't vote four years ago either. Two reasons were giving for not-voting:
1) Issues with registration. Most of the people I know, who are my age, move every other year. As far as I can't tell, the Democrats' push to get out the youth vote started on Oct 15 with that Rolling Stone article - this was too late for voting registration changes of address to go through.
(Maybe someone could look into whether the youth vote was higher in states with same-day registration - in New Jersey, the deadline is two weeks before the election.)
2) Issues with gerrymandering. I'm probably overestimating this effect based on the people I hang out with, but I do know that 18-29 year olds are much more likely to live in college towns, cities, or poorer (="affordable") areas. These places are going to Democrats anyway, so why vote?
(Maybe someone could look into whether youth turnout was higher in states with Gubernatorial races - in New Jersey, we were only electing Senators and local officers.)
More in next comment; I don't want to go over the limit.
(continued) I think Democrats were disappointed by low voter turnout because so many young people were registered in the run up to the Presidential election two years ago. Some Democrats - who should have known better - might have thought that these 2008 registrations would continue to pay dividends in 2010, and so focused their (much smaller compared to Republicans') campaign budgets on the two weeks just before the election. (Plus everyone knows that my generation has a short attention span anyway.)ReplyDelete
But this kind of thinking, if indeed it occurred, ignores my two points above: 1) that youth registered to vote in one place, who have moved - even if just to another apartment across town - won't vote if they can't (or can't be bothered to) return to their two-years-ago location; and 2) that districts matter much more in Senatorial races than they do in Presidential races.
I also think that efforts to "motivate" the youth are useless when they are not accompanied by specific instructions as to how one goes about fulfilling one's civic duty: in other words, that Rolling Stone article should have included a link to a government website were one could print out, fill out, and mail in a vote registration change-of-address form. And it should also have included a link to a website where one could sign up to receive an email on the day of the election with directions to the polling place. (Or just the address: young people know how to use the internet to find directions.)
Anyway, I voted. All the political blogs I follow, (and Facebook), reminded me to do so; I changed my registration address during an on-campus registration drive last month. I live in a city, and my polling place is 10 blocks from my apartment (luckily, as I don't have a car). In other words, the stars were aligned; it would have been stranger if I *hadn't* voted.