(The article was co-authored by Matthew Jason.)
We have all heard about how the young voters helped elect President Barack Obama last year, and it is very hard to argue this fact. According to CNN Exit Polls, Obama defeated McCain sixty-six percent (66%) to thirty-two percent (32%) among voters ages 18-24 and sixty-six percent (66%) to thirty-one percent (31%) among voters ages 25-29. Even voters ages 30-39 voted for President Obama by a margin of fifty-four percent (54%) to forty-four percent (44%).
Current polling suggests that these young voters still view President Obama very positively and approve of the job he is doing as President. The new NBC News/Wall Street Journal Survey released last week shows President Obama with a personal image among 18-34 year olds of sixty-three percent (63%) positive and only twenty-one percent (21%) negative. Further, forty-two percent (42%) of the18-34 year olds interviewed said they have a very positive opinion of President Obama. Similarly, sixty-three percent (63%) of this younger demographic said they approve of the job being done by President Obama, and only twenty-seven percent (27%) said they disapprove of the President’s job.
Is it fair then to surmise that this younger voter demographic is now a loyal constituency that the Democratic Party can count on in future elections? Maybe not. On the same NBC News/Wall Street Journal Survey, only forty-four percent (44%) of 18-34 year olds said they had a positive opinion of the Democratic Party, and only eighteen percent (18%) said they had a very positive opinion. These numbers somehow do not sound very positive in comparison to the sixty-three percent (63%) who said they view Barack Obama and the job he is doing positively.
“But Americans hate the Republican Party, and it is in decline.” We hear this all the time, but it simply is not true. Americans do currently view the Democratic Party more positively than they do the Republican Party, but the contrast is not nearly as stark as media reports would lead you to believe, even among these young voters who are so supportive of President Obama. According to the NBC News/Wall Street Journal Survey, thirty-four percent (34%) of 18-34 year old Americans view the Republican Party positively, and thirty-three percent (33%) view it negatively.
Thirty percent (30%) of Americans ages 18-34 are currently withholding judgement on the Republican Party and saying they view the party in a neutral manner. If Republicans are able to formulate their own policy alternatives that appeal to younger voters, it is certainly conceivable that Republican candidates in districts across the country could benefit from these younger voters being involved in the political process in 2010. The burden is on Republicans to come up with ideas to win the young voters over. Being against everything President Obama does is just not the answer.