Yesterday's New York Times delivers the latest dose of bad news for the President's re-election committee.
In the four years since President Obama swept into office in large part with the support of a vast army of young people, a new corps of men and women have come of voting age with views shaped largely by the recession. And unlike their counterparts in the millennial generation who showed high levels of enthusiasm for Mr. Obama at this point in 2008, the nation’s first-time voters are less enthusiastic about him, are significantly more likely to identify as conservative and cite a growing lack of faith in government in general, according to interviews, experts and recent polls.
This does not automatically mean that they are run out to vote for Romney....
Among all 18- to 29-year-olds, the poll found a high level of undecided voters; 30 percent indicated that they had not yet made up their mind. And turnout among this group is expected to be significantly lower than for older voters.
“The concern for Obama, and the opportunity for Romney, is in the 18- to 24-year-olds who don’t have the historical or direct connection to the campaign or the movement of four years ago,” said John Della Volpe, director of polling at the Harvard Institute of Politics. “We’re also seeing that these younger members of this generation are beginning to show some more conservative traits. It doesn’t mean they are Republican. It means Republicans have an opportunity.”
We have one of those new voters in our home this year. We have actually spent the last several years discussing issues with him and giving him both sides....and if he ever thought he would "score points" parroting what mom or dad said the bubble was burst with one three letter word...WHY? Yes he is a more conservative voter, but if you ask him why he believes what he believes, he can tell you! Unlike many of the feeling progressives.
The facts are youth unemployment is almost triple that of the rest of the country....
Experts say the impact of the recession and the slow recovery should not be underestimated. The newest potential voters — some 17 million people — have been shaped more by harsh economic times in their formative years than by anything else, and that force does not tend to be galvanizing in a positive way.
For 18- and 19-year-olds, the unemployment rate as of May was 23.5 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For those ages 20 to 24, the rate falls to 12.9 percent, compared with the national unemployment rate of 8.2 percent for all ages. The impact of the recession on the young has created a disillusionment about politics in general, several experts suggested.
...which is "normal" in a recession. The bad news for Obama is that he won in 2008 riding a wave of votes from two blocks that are hit the hardest by this recession...African Americans and the youth.
“I think the lack of excitement right now is palpable enough to be a challenge to the re-election campaign” of Mr. Obama, said Peter Levine, director of the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University.
Again this is not a given for anyone. A lot of work will be necessary. The Romney campaign seems to be poised to take advantage of the situation.
The Romney campaign intends to seize the moment, with new online and campus-based initiatives rolling out in the next few weeks, said Joshua Baca, the campaign’s national coalition director. He said the message would be simple: Mr. Obama’s economic policies are not working for young people.
The strategy? “Dorm room to dorm room” or “parent’s basement to parent’s basement, wherever they are because of the economy, that’s where we’ll be going,” Mr. Baca said. “The key to this is having a very strong volunteer base to knock on doors.”
But it is going to be an up hill fight for both candidates. The President's campaign has the harder task though. They have to energize an existing base that is demoralized, deflated and crushed by the very real specter of a mountain of college debt. When there are no jobs and there is no prospect of jobs, that mountain is all you can see and there will be little the President or his campaign can do to fix that perception.