Young Voters Change the Channel on Obama [Guy Benson]
It's been the conventional wisdom for months: Barack Obama will harness the heretofore untapped power of the "youth vote" in November, and ride the wave of future-oriented hope and change into the Oval Office. The mainstream media has eagerly embraced this meme, touting Obama's unprecedented ability to electrify and inspire voters 18-29 at virtually every opportunity.
But a funny thing's happened on Obama's way to the White House. This potential game-changing demographic is beginning to sour on its onetime political crush. According to one recent poll, some young voters even appear to be doing the unthinkable — gravitating toward Obama's self-proclaimed "old-as-dirt" opponent.
A recent ABC News/Washington Post survey reveals the first nugget of alarming news for Team Obama. As Obamania reached its frenzied pinnacle in March, fully 66 percent of voters 18-29 told pollsters they were "certain" to cast ballots in November. By late July, that figure dropped by a whopping 20 percentage points, with less than half of the youth vote still vowing to go to the polls this fall.
A freshly minted Zogby poll that grabbed headlines by highlighting a dramatic McCain comeback in the overall data also features a fascinating youth vote tidbit: "McCain gained 20% and Obama lost 16% among voters ages 18-29. Obama still leads that group, 49%-38%."
These numbers, even if slightly exaggerated, are nothing short of staggering. If Barack Obama leads John McCain among teens and twenty-somethings by a mere eleven points, a truly massive shift has occurred. Many young voters may very well return to Obama eventually, but their unwavering devotion to him is in serious jeopardy.
Why are young voters suddenly jumping ship or tuning out?
Obama's endless parade of flip-flops — from FISA, to public financing, to offshore drilling, to handguns — may play a central role in the mass exodus. Young voters entered the 2008 election cycle desperate to reject and abandon the tired politics of bitter partisanship and cynical calculation. A naive ambition perhaps, but a pervasive desire nonetheless. They initially embraced Obama as someone who appeared to genuinely share that goal. As the weeks rolled on, though, the once-blinding luster of Obama's "new politics" has been systematically sullied and tarnished. As more young voters begin to perceive Obama as just another politician, his flowery speeches and rhetorical acrobatics are not wearing particularly well. They may even be getting a little lame.
As Alex Castellanos observed over on the Huffington Post, "Obama is the talented salesman who seduced one state after another saying 'Iowa, this is our moment,' 'Virginia, this is our moment,' 'Texas, this is our moment,' and then tells Europe, 'people of Berlin, people of the world, this is our moment.' How many times can Barack Obama sell the same moment to everyone, before he becomes Mel Brooks in 'The Producers'?"
If the latest round of polling data is any indication, many young people who originally bought what Obama was selling are asking for their money back.
08/06 12:47 PMShare