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The Youth Vote and the GOP

Guest Aloysius

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Guest Aloysius

Interesting post by Toop's favorite blogger, Greg Mankiw:

The Youth Vote and the GOP




This picture from Andrew Gelman is striking. It suggests that the major difference between the past two elections and this one was the youth vote. In this election, the young left the Republican party in droves.


Why? I am not enough of a political scientist to be sure, but recent conversations I have had with some Harvard undergrads have led me to a conjecture: It was largely noneconomic issues. These particular students told me they preferred the lower tax, more limited government, freer trade views of McCain, but they were voting for Obama on the basis of foreign policy and especially social issues like abortion. The choice of a social conservative like Palin as veep really turned them off McCain.


So what does the Republican Party need to do to get the youth vote back? If these Harvard students are typical (and perhaps they are not, as Harvard students are hardly a random sample), the party needs to scale back its social conservatism. Put simply, it needs to become a party for moderate and mainstream libertarians. The actual Libertarian Party is far too extreme in its views to attract these students. And it is too much of a strange fringe group. These students are, after all, part of the establishment. But a reformed Republican Party could, I think, win them back.


Can the Republican Party move in this direction without losing much of its base? I have no idea, but for the GOP, that seems to be the challenge ahead.

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Republicans are acting a little too damn insane about taxes. If he raises taxes on the middle and lower classes, it won't be the end of the world. You'll have to pay a few more dollars out of your paycheck. Besides, what's the difference between worrying about that and worrying about "the price of beer and IPods"? Either way your wallet is hurting.


Yes. The economy and health care are probably more important than a few more dollars out of each persons paycheck.

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Heck summed up my response to this the other day when he said something like, "this was Obama's election"


Young voters havent made an ideological decision to vote Dem, they made a decision not to vote for W, and then to vote for the biggest celebrity to run for Prez since JFK. Even if just the demographics of the candidates were reversed, the vote looks completely different.

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[Young voters not essential to Obama triumph


Analysis shatters exit-polling myth, but shows black voters were vital


NEW YORK — If as the saying goes, “victory has a hundred fathers, but defeat is an orphan,” among the “fathers” claiming credit for Barack Obama’s triumph are different demographic groups and Democratic constituencies.


It was union members who helped make Obama president, says the AFL-CIO. It was young voters who lifted him to victory. Latinos were crucial. Single women were decisive.


But wait a minute — would Obama have won anyway without, for instance, younger voters?

AnaMaria Arumi, who directs the exit poll desk for NBC, MSNBC and Telemundo, has done the calculations based on the exit poll data and here is what she found: On a state-by-state level, when she re-ran the numbers as if there were no voters under 30, the only states that would switch to Republican presidential candidate John McCain are Indiana and North Carolina.

Without younger voters, Obama would still have won the 270 electoral votes he needs to become the next president.


What if there were no Latino voters?


In a counter-factual world in which there were no Latino voters, both New Mexico and Indiana would have switched into the McCain column. But Obama would have still won the electoral vote.

However, Arumi said, in the make-believe world where no African-Americans voted, while Obama still would have won most of the states that he won, McCain would have been able to take the hotly contested states of Florida, Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia.


The 107 electoral votes from those states would have been enough to shift the map in McCain’s favor.


It matters that Arumi did her calculations on a state-by-state basis — because it is the electoral votes of individual states and the District of Columbia and not the national popular vote that makes a candidate president.


Nationally, Obama's widest margin was among voters under 30. He won two-thirds of such voters, according to exit poll interviews.


Young voters in Virginia vs. Oklahoma


A close examination of a specific battleground state such as Virginia shows that 60 percent of Virginia voters under the age of 30 said they cast their ballots for Obama.


But for a contrast, take a state where McCain did very well, such as Oklahoma. In the Sooner State, just as in Virginia, about one-fifth of the voters were under age 30. And McCain won 60 percent of them. Not surprisingly McCain carried Oklahoma by a big margin, 32 percentage points.

So just as important as the differences between younger and older voters was simply where the voter lived: young people in Oklahoma tended to vote for McCain; young people in Virginia did not.

The problem for McCain is that there simply weren’t enough young voters in other states who were like the young voters in Oklahoma.


And younger voters in a heavily Democratic state such as California were not decisive in

That is because Democratic presidential candidates win California by such huge margins that the outcome there was never in doubt. Strategists knew at the outset that they could move California’s 55 electoral votes to the Democratic column.


What do we really know about the votes?


It’s important to note that the discussion about the relative importance of one demographic group or another is based on exit poll interviews with voters.


No election official knows for certain how many people in Virginia under age 30 voted — or for whom they voted. Ballots are not marked by the voter's age or any other distinguishing factor.

Likewise no one really knows for certain how many black voters in Virginia voted for McCain and how many for Obama.


And there are almost no voting precincts in the United States where 100 percent of the voters are young or black or Jewish or gun owners or members of any other single group.


Traditional voting analyses examined voting precincts that were dominated by one ethnic or religious group: voters in a predominantly Jewish precinct in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn in the 1940 election, for instance.


More recently political scientists have examined exit poll data — samples of the electorate in a state or the entire country.


Of course, we still can look at a predominantly Latino or black congressional districts or counties. Census data can help us assess how black or Latino voters cast their ballots.


In Allendale County, South Carolina, for instance, Obama won 75 percent of the vote, making that his best county in a state he lost. That’s an actual vote count, not exit poll data.


According to the Census, 71 percent of Allendale County’s population is black. We can infer that most African-American voters in the county voted for Obama, but we still don’t know for certain how white and blacks voted in the county.


Nationally, the exit poll interviews indicated that:


•61 percent of Obama's votes came from white voters; 90 percent of McCain's came from white voters.

•23 percent of Obama's votes came from black voters; only one percent of McCain's came from African American voters.

•Latino voters accounted for 11 percent of Obama's vote and six percent of McCain's.

•Twenty-three percent of the Obama voters were under age 30 but only 13 percent of McCain backers were.


Surge of young voters?


NBC's Arumi said that while more people voted this time around than in 2004, that one age group did not turn out at a much higher rate than others did.

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Not sure you were replying to the article I posted, but I posted it because it was about 180 degrees apart from the thread topic and conventional widsom.


To be honest, I haven't read it yet - at least in enough detail to evaluate. My quick take is that the article contends that Obama's victory was even more solid and widespread than thought because he would have won, albeit by a smaller margin, without the young voters.


Just some food for thought.


I forget where I picked up the article but the article, itself, was an analysis by MSNBC (IIRC).

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Yeah, I'm also confident that 9 year olds were voting based on the issues relevant to selecting a President. I heard fetuses supported Obama 9-1. The GOP is screwed forever. They should just adopt the DNC platform at this point. After all, an astonishing 53% of Americans (well, those that voted) were willing to vote for it when it was presented by the most charismatic politician in decades. The result wouldve been the same even if the Dems ran Robert Byrd. This election was a condemnation of conservative policies.


In unrelated news, Howard Stern sent reporters to the street the other day to ask about the election. Obama voters were lauding his choice of Sarah Palin as VP. I'll let you guess whether or not they then launched into a detailed breakdown of why they disagree with McCain's health care plan.


Yes, overly sarcastic, I know. I'm just getting tired already of the sweeping conclusions you're drawing from a couple of exit poll statistics. African-Americans voted Dem. This is not something new. And this isnt a fast growing population. There is no interesting new info there. Fast growing populations are Hispanic and Asian. The Hispanic vote went for Obama, but did so in a year that immigration was completely ignored as a campaign issue. Hispanics are also more socially conservative than the total population, so your plan for the GOP to abandon their social positions doesnt seem to be helpful there. NPR has been reporting from Asian countries (I've heard them report from China, Japan, and South Korea) that Obama's support there is mostly based on his race. They are excited to see Americans treating a minority so well. So all you need to do there is make sure to run a young minority against an old white guy indefinitely, and you're set (note to Bobby Jindal). Again, not a repudiation of conservative policy. None of these groups set out to trash Milton Friedman. I'm not going to bother with the problems you think the GOP has with kids and teenagers. I dont believe you take that very seriously.


Overall, this is a victory with 53% of the vote. Less than that among almost any group you want to pick over the age of 25. It's nonsense to claim that to be proof of a permanent shift left in America.


On a related note, abortion is far from a non-issue. Even with recent declines, there are over 1.2 million abortions performed in this country each year. About 75% of Americans support not just birth control, but legal restrictions on abortion, according to Gallup. 59% want abortion to be legal either in only a few (as opposed to most) circumstances or not at all. This isnt a dead issue. And while their use of it might be poor at the moment, this isnt even a losing issue for the GOP. A quick look at the notification ballot measure in CA, for example, shows your coveted Latino and Asian voters supporting it more strongly than any other group, 53% and 57% respectively.

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