Can the Youth Vote Stave Off Democratic Losses This Year?

Obama hits the road to drum up enthusiam

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With Democrats getting battered in battleground states--particularly Ohio--the president has gone back on the offensive to urge his once-enthusiastic voters to make their way to the polls. Youth and minority voters, which Obama won handily in the 2008 election, have been less than eager to campaign for the president's party in the lead-up to the midterms. But students and other youth voters are notoriously unreliable in midterm elections, so the president is embarking on a several state swing of college campuses to shore up this demographic. Some skeptics, pointing to the "enthusiasm gap" with Republicans, find it to be too-little, too-late for the Democrats.

  • Getting the Youth to Vote Is Difficult, But It's Critical for Democrats reports Michael Falcone and Amy Walter at ABC News: "Why the emphasis on this segment of the electorate? Just take a look at a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll, which found that only 55 percent of 18 to 28-year-old voters said they were "absolutely certain" to go to the polls this fall, compared to 78 percent of the 50 to 64-year-old crowd and 77 percent of those over 65." That gap is the reason why Obama and Biden will make their way through Iowa, Virginia, New Mexico and Wisconsin and speak with plenty of students and student journalists along the way.

  • His Grassroots Network Is a 'Shadow of Its Former Self' write Philip Rucker and Anne E. Kornblut at The Washington Post. Democrats are hoping that the Madison rally, which also features musician Ben Harper, will "jump start" the party's fortunes. Yet even though officials such as David Plouffe have stated that they aren't trying to "replicate" 2008, the strategy appears to be a "last-ditch" effort to get voters as Democrats anticipate fall losses. "The Democratic National Committee has made this the keystone of its $50 million midterm strategy, hoping that turning out even a small fraction of Obama surge voters could help swing races in competitive states," note the Post reporters.
  • This Needs To Be a 'Big Deal' to Work writes Michael D. Shear at The New York Times. The president is currently "suffering from a lack of enthusiasm" and he needs to conjure up his 2008 campaign magic if possible: "The Madison rally will, in part, be a test of whether Mr. Obama can still provide that kind of political punch. In February 2008, Mr. Obama, then a candidate, filled the 17,000-seat Kohl Center in Madison and left thousands more outside, waiting to get in." This time, Democratic officials have declined to predict how many will show up to the rally.
  • He Has His 'Work Cut Out For Him' figures The Wall Street Journal's Jonathan Weisman. Organizing and energizing the youth, "were staples of the Obama presidential campaign, which built up a vast database of supporters' vitals, such as e-mail addresses and contact information. First-time voters in 2008 are now the most prized target of Democratic organizers, but they have been hard to energize." Not to mention the presumption that, "the Upper Midwest is shaping up as a graveyard for Democratic incumbents in November."
  • 'Do They Really Think They Can Put a Bubble Back Together After It Has Popped?' wonder the bloggers behind Pundit & Pundette. "The Obama trendiness has passed. One of my readers pointed out a while back that a magic trick is ruined once the audience sees how the trick is done. Worse, some people feel deceived and cheated. But the Obami have got nothing else," and it appears that Democrats will be hoping to catch 'magic' in a bottle a second time."
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