The Party's Over: Obama's youth support dwindles as "Hope" fades

The post originally appeared at MatthewHurtt.com:

The Huffington Post reports this morning that the “youth vote,” that elusive and fickle demographic that Obama swept off its feet in 2008, is moving noticeably in the opposite direction as notions of “Hope” and “Change” fade from political discourse. From the article:

Whither the youth vote? A year after backing Barack Obama by an overwhelming 2-to-1 ratio, young adults are quickly cooling toward Democrats amid dissatisfaction over the lack of change in Washington and an escalating war in Afghanistan.

A study by the Pew Research Center, being released Wednesday, highlights the eroding support from 18-to-29 year olds whose strong turnout in November 2008 was touted by some demographers as the start of a new Democratic movement.

The findings are significant because they offer further proof that the diverse coalition of voters Obama cobbled together in 2008 – including high numbers of first-timers, minorities and youths – are not Democratic Party voters who can necessarily be counted on.

Both Pew commentaries can be found here and here. Pew graciously charted the results below:

The heavy red and blue lines represent young people who are “Republican/lean Republican” and “Democrat/lean Democrat” respectively. The thin lines represent older voting demographics. Pew reveals that 54% of young people now consider themselves Democrats, whereas 62% of young people considered themselves Democrats when Obama won the Presidential election. The number of young people who consider themselves Republican jumped ten points from 30% to 40% during the same time period.

The gap for older voting demographics has narrowed more significantly, but if the trend continues to move in favor of Republicans, the “youth vote” will have likely balanced out by the mid-term elections. All signs point to this being a good year for conservatives and Republicans, with probably 10 or so seats up for grabs in the Senate and over 40 seats in play in the House.

As someone who works closely with conservative university students, I can attest that the fervor and excitement on the right side of the aisle in anticipation for this election cycle is growing. Young voters may be moving away from Obama, but many are finding their home among conservatives, as evidenced by the large number of young people in attendance at CPAC this year.

With the economy being the number one concern for young people, the Republicans can position themselves as the champions of the free market and capitalism, so long as they remain solidly committed to opposing more bailouts and big government.

Matthew Hurtt graduated from Middle Tennessee State University in May 2009 with a Bachelor of Arts in History and Political Science. He can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter, too.