One of the battlegrounds of the 2012 presidential campaign will be younger voters, as the Associated Press reports:
WASHINGTON — Once thought to be solidly behind President Barack Obama, younger voters burdened by a bleak employment picture, high gas prices and student loan debt are being aggressively wooed by the Democrat and his likely Republican challenger, Mitt Romney.
In 2008, Obama had a 34-point advantage over Republican Sen. John McCain among voters under age 30. He won about two-thirds of the vote in that age group.
But a new Harvard poll suggests the president may face a harder sales job with younger voters this time around. Obama led Romney by 12 points among those ages 18-24, according to the survey. Among those in the 25-29 age group, Obama held a 23-point advantage.
To keep that advantage among young voters, Obama is campaigning to keep interest rates on student loans at their current level. Unless Congress takes action by July, those rates are scheduled to double from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent. According to Obama, “that’s basically a $1,000 tax hike for more than 7 million students across America.”
However, the House Republican budget makes no provision for such a change, which puts Romney in a bit of a pickle. Should he side with House Republicans, or should he side with college students and recent college graduates? On Monday, he made his choice.
“Particularly with the number of college graduates that can’t find work or that can only find work well beneath their skill level, I fully support the effort to extend the low interest rate on student loans,” Romney told reporters.
Basically, Romney decided that the best way to beat Obama was to copy from him, at least on this issue. Maybe the strategy will work; maybe it won’t. But I suspect it would work at least a little bit better if Romney could also pull off something like this:
– Jay Bookman