Quite the Change from 2009: Young Adults Carrying a Republican to Victory

Scott Brown is winning in Massachusetts. Put differently – a Republican is winning in Massachusetts. The enormity and importance of this fact is hard to put into words. As a recent Economist article explained ,

Massachusetts is the Democratic Alabama . . . It is also home to America’s most enduring Democratic dynasty: the Kennedys. Its combination of unions, intellectuals and blacks makes it one of the safest Democratic states in the country. The state as a whole does not have a single Republican member in the House or Senate.

On the day before the election an InsiderAdvantage poll showed Republican Scott Brown holding a 9 point advantage over Martha Coakley. Quite the change since September when initial polling showed Coakley holding a commanding and seemingly insurmountable 30% lead over the then-unknown Brown.

One of the main drivers behind the Scott Brown comeback has been a surge in support amongst young adults. Brown currently has a 61%-to-30% lead among voters 18-29, who have been a key Democratic constituency in Massachusetts. As a point of comparison in the state, Barack Obama won the youth demographic by 78%-to-20% margin. That means in just over a year there has been an 89% swing in favor of the Republican candidate.

Part of the reason for the change has been Scott Brown’s ability to embrace new media sources that appeal to young voters. For instance, the Boston Herald notes that

  • Brown has 20,183 fans on his Facebook fan page while Coakley has 6,702
  • The Facebook group “Women for Brown” has 1,128 members while the comparable “Women for Coakley” has a mere 45
  • On Twitter, Brown has 4,156 followers while Coakley only has 2,032
  • Brown’s YouTube channel has 11,204 vies while Coakley has 2,374

But while social media is an important indicator and driver of youth support, it is not the sole explanation for the dramatic shift in the youth vote. The ultimate reason for the shift is more fundamental – young adults do not approve of Democrats’ current handling of the issues. We wanted a focus on increasing jobs; we got an unworkable health care bill. We wanted fiscal responsibility; we got an explosion in the national debt. We wanted a fundamental change in the hyper-partisan and out of touch politics of Washington; we got more of the same.

Republicans, such as Scott Brown, are riding a wave of discontent amongst young adults, manifested because of a failure to deliver on the lofty promises of Barack Obama. Republicans are in the perfect position to fill the void. But to ensure that this election represents more than a simple repudiation of the Democratic agenda, Republicans must begin to court tomorrow’s votes. Young adults represent the foundation of the party. Winning the 18-29 demographic not only increases Republican odds of succeeding this coming November, but also ensures a vibrant and active electorate for years to come. Young adults are the future and if the poll numbers in Massachusetts are any indication – the future is bright.