Young Adults Shy Away From 'Democrat' Label

As pundits, of course, parse the electoral implications

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Citing a Pew Research Poll, The New York Times' Kirk Johnson surmises that college students, who once swooned for President Obama, are now beginning to distance themselves from the Democratic Party. The "college vote," which traditionally skews Democratic, may be marginalized this year as young adults become disillusioned with the administration. The trend comes at a particularly poor time for Democratic candidates, as Republicans and Tea Party "insurgents" have been building momentum toward significant congressional gains this November. Pundits parse the numbers, explaining the implications of the latest electoral wrinkle.

  • It's Similar to What Happened After 1976 when "a bunch of naive 18-, 19- and 20-year-olds voted for a Democratic president and 4 years later either fled politics or the Democratic Party," grumbles Don Surber at The Daily Mail. "I predict that people under 30 this year will revert to their usual apathetic and self-centered ways — it is a stage of life — and simply stop voting because it is no longer cool." The 50-64 age group will decide the election as American politics "returns to normal."
  • The Youth Aren't Becoming Republicans, they just appear to be disillusioned with politics in general right now, figures Doug Mataconis at Outside the Beltway. "However, it’s worth noting that we haven’t really seen any evidence since November 2008 that the young voters that President Obama excited during his two years on the campaign trail are any more politically engaged or active for other Democrats than they were in the past." Obama-mania, he writes, seems to be "overblown."
  • The Reason: Dems Have An Incoherent Message  "They cannot explain in one sentence what Democrats stand for," writes Steffen Schmidt at The Des Moines Register. "The lack of young voter enthusiasm is perfectly clear – if you don’t advertise your product the competition will blow you away. The GOP has been marketing itself like crazy and has all the media 'stars' (whether you like Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Limbaugh, and others or not)."
  • Obama's 2008 Appeal Was Based on Personality, not his "carefully concealed" ideology, notes B. Daniel Blatt at Gay Patriot. "Obama only narrowly edged John McCain among voters over 30. Even if a majority of the youth vote (but smaller than Obama's 2008 tally) remains Democratic, if the shift away from the president’s party is paralleled among older demographics, the Democrats' majority vanishes."
  • This Is Another 'Bogus Trend Story' peddled by The New York Times, asserts Paul Waldman at The American Prospect. "In the heart of a presidential campaign in which the Democrat, a dynamic young candidate, would go on to whip the Republican, a crotchety old candidate, the proportion of young people identifying as Democrats peaked at 62 percent. And now, with the economy in the toilet, the president's approval ratings in the 40s, and Democrats facing huge losses in November, that number has plummeted all the way to ... 57 percent."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.