President Obama was elected with the help of an enthusiastic turnout of young voters, many of them exercising the franchise for the first time. Charmed by a youthful candidate, excited by the prospect of a history-making election, they went to the polls in droves.
Now, Democrats are worried that those same voters won’t turn out for the mid-term elections:
Less than 24 hours after President Barack Obama announced his plan to re-build the coalition that helped elect him in 2008, new numbers from Gallup suggest one of the pillars of that foundation is decidedly shaky.
Less than one in four voters aged 18-29 described themselves as “very enthusiastic” about the 2010 midterm election. Those numbers compare unfavorably to voters between 50 and 64 (44 percent “very enthusiastic”), 65 and older (41 percent “very enthusiastic”) and 30 to 49 (32 percent “very enthusiastic”).
“The fact that voters under age 50 — and particularly those under 30 — are less enthusiastic about voting this year is not a new phenomenon,” wrote Gallup’s Frank Newport. “Voter turnout typically skews older.”
While the data is in keeping with traditional voting patterns, it makes obvious the difficulty facing the White House as they seek to reconstruct the combination of young voters, independents and African Americans who helped propel Obama into the White House.
Looking back at exit polls from the last three presidential races, it’s clear that the story is not how young people comprised larger and larger segments of the electorate but rather how much more Democratic they voted between 2000 and 2008.