Young & Disillusioned

November 6th, 2012 by Joseph Rossell

Most pollsters and pundits agree: the young vote no longer supports President Obama as it did in 2008.  While Obama still holds a strong majority among voters in their teens and twenties, not only has president’s lead narrowed among this demographic, fewer of them are likely to vote.

According to a recent report from the Harvard University Institute of Politics (IOP), the president’s majority has decreased 7 percentage points over his lead going into the 2008 election.  Moreover, only 48 percent of young voters even plan to vote in this election, as compared to 57 percent in 2008.

What is the cause of this decreased support? “As enthusiasm for voting continues to slip among America’s 18- to 29- year olds, the IOP’s latest poll shows a clear sentiment by young adults that Washington is broken,” says IOP’s Political Director Trey Grayson.

Given President Obama’s lofty promises of “change” during the 2008 campaign, it is no surprise that his young supporters were bound for disappointment.  No one person could fulfill the expectations president set when he was first elected.  As Dr. Janice Shaw Crouse writes, “Mr. Obama’s savvy strategists for 2008 figured ways to make the Ivy-League elitist into an ‘everyman.’ With inherently vague, evocative rhetoric, the presidential candidate allowed the voters to ‘fill in the blanks’ while he promised everything in general, but nothing specific.”

Four years later, the president’s empty campaign slogans have proven less potent among young voters than they once were.  While the polls paint an altered landscape from 2008, tonight’s results will demonstrate whether or not these shifts will prove to be a national game-changer.

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