Sunday, November 09, 2008

Young Voters Support for Obama is Just the Beginning

Exit polls show that young voters (age 18-29) strongly supported Barack Obama this election. Without that support we would have seen yet another close election..

Exit polling indicates that Mr Obama won two-thirds of those voting under 30 years old against 32 per cent for John McCain. Compare that with a 54-45 margin for John Kerry in 2004 and a 48-46 margin for Al Gore in 2000. Consider this: if young people had voted for Democrats at about the same proportion of the overall electorate (52-46) as they had voted as recently as 2000 for Mr Gore and for many cycles prior, Mr Obama would not have won North Carolina or Indiana. Young voters also provided the margin of victory in key battleground states such as Florida, Virginia and Ohio. The youth vote expanded the map for Mr Obama; it put him over the top in states not won by Democrats in decades.
I am reading the book, Millennial Makeover: MySpace, YouTube, & the Future of American Politics. The books says the Millennials, those who have been in High School in the 2000's, are a civic-minded generation that is more engaged and focused on solving the nation's problems and less interested in partisan bickering.

This strong support for progressives from young voters in the Millennial generation is just beginning.
Less than half of the Millennial generation were eligible to vote yesterday, and all Millennials will not be in the electorate until 2016. We know that partisanship is a loyalty that develops early in life (pdf), usually during the first three major elections in which one participates. What the Obama campaign, and many others, did yesterday was lock in the loyalty of those who first participated in 2004. That's only a small fraction of the Millennials, and we have a long way to go still. I've written about this effect before, calling it the first of many thirds - the idea that engaging youth is a rolling process in which we are always ushering a new generation towards that third election that locks in partisan loyalty.
The 2008 election is just the tip of the iceberg of what could be 40 years of progressive policy reforms.

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