Rob Horowitz: Millennial Turnout is a Key for Obama
Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Despite being hit hard by the Great Recession, the broad attitudes and characteristics of the so-called Millennial generation still provide fertile soil for President Barack Obama who fared well with these voters in 2008 and will need another strong showing from the 18 to 29 age group to win re-election this fall.
In 2008, more than two out of every three voters between the ages of 18 and 29 chose Barack Obama over his Republican opponent, U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona). Just as important, nearly one out of every five voters in the 2008 election came from this age group/ In fact, turnout among young voters slightly exceeded turnout among voters over age 65—the only age group McCain won.
Millennials -- those who were born between 1983 and 2003--now comprise all voters between the ages of 18 and 29. Polling shows they are far more supportive of an active government than the electorate as a whole. By and large, they are very community minded and tend to view public service more positively than previous generations. They back same-sex marriage and a comprehensive immigration policy that includes a path to citizenship. The only counters to this more liberal voter profile is that this age group tends to be skeptical that medicare and social security will be there for their generation and is about evenly split on the issue of abortion.
According to millennial experts, Morley Winograd and Michael Hais, 40 percent of Millennials are Latino, African-American, Asian or of mixed racial background. This is a big increase from Generation X and the Baby Boomers where these groups comprised 25 percent. Further, it is large generation, 95 million strong, meaning a large potential voter pool from which to draw.
Equally as important, Millennials have maintained their optimism in the face of difficult economic circumstances. In a recent Pew Poll, nearly nine in 10 still say they “either earn enough money now or they will in the future.”
Still, providing motivation to vote for this group is a critical campaign component for the Obama campaign. Obama’s convention speech theme that “we are all in this together” and its emphasis on the role of active citizenship in a democracy is likely to have special resonance with Millennials. Clearly, that was not accident on the President's part.
Moreover, Obama has made increasing access to higher education a front-and-center platform point -- including successfully forcing the Republican Congress to hold down interest rates on student loans. He has also emphasized the importance of community colleges to job creation; fought for more financial aid and proposed incentives for colleges to control tuition costs.
To push the message, he has spent significant campaign time speaking on college campuses in battleground states as a way to reignite enthusiasm. Campaign resources are devoted to a sophisticated effort to use social media to foster the kind of peer-to-peer sharing of information that is effective with young voters.
It is also important to note that turnout among young voters was also high in 2004, a race without Obama on the ballot. The outlook and civic-minded attitudes of this new generation of voters is likely to produce another high turnout despite some reduced enthusiasm for the President.
Rob Horowitz is a strategic and communications consultant who provides general consulting, public relations, direct mail services and polling for national and state issue organizations, various non-profits and elected officials and candidates. He is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the University of Rhode Island.
- Rob Horowitz: Chafee Package Can Save Cities and Towns
- Rob Horowitz: Colorado By Itself Won’t Lead to Sensible Gun Control
- Rob Horowitz: Gemma’s Hail Mary
- Rob Horowitz: HBO’s Game Change Reignites Palin Controversy
- Rob Horowitz: DMV Improvements are a Tangible Chafee Accomplishment
- Rob Horowitz: Here’s Hoping For Mike Huckabee’s Radio Success
- Rob Horowitz: Latest Poll Contains Good News for Cicilline
- Rob Horowitz: Merger of Education Boards is Another Big Mistake
- Rob Horowitz: Minimum Wage Boost Good for Rhode Island Economy
- Rob Horowitz: New Polling Provides Some Hope for Earth Day
- Rob Horowitz: New Public Records Law a Step in the Right Direction
- Rob Horowitz: Obama Moves Us Forward on Immigration Policy
- Rob Horowitz: President Obama is in Solid Position to Defeat Romney
- Rob Horowitz: Providence Pension Deal Provides Model for All Communities
- Rob Horowitz: Romney Aide’s Resignation Highlights Importance of Marriage Equality Fight
- Rob Horowitz: Romney Stung By Bain Attack
- Rob Horowitz: Some Good Emerges from Senseless Trayvon Martin Tragedy
- Rob Horowitz: Support for Marriage Equality is Historic and Important
- Rob Horowitz: Supreme Court Decision a Net Political Plus for Obama
- Rob Horowitz: The Battle to Make College More Affordable
- Rob Horowitz: The Paul Ryan Selection
- Rob Horowitz: The Politics Rule Out Single-Payer Health Care System
- Rob Horowitz: Time to Prove We Value Our Veterans
- Rob Horowitz: Time to Take Action on Climate Change
- Rob Horowitz: Whitehouse Gains National Prominence with Buffett Rule Legislation