In 2008, Barack Obama’s presidential victory was bolstered by a buoyant youth vote, which enthusiastically took to social media to tout his promises of hope and change.
Young voters’ preference for Democrats isn’t entirely new — in fact, they have leaned left in the last three election cycles, suggesting a dramatic shift in the country’s overall political landscape, according to a Pew Research Center study.
But Obama got a lot of traction by promising to pump up a lagging economy, which has drastically limited employment opportunities for the 18 to 30-year-old age group.
But a new poll suggests that Republicans might be making some gains with young people, according to Tufts University’s Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning (CIRCLE).
Around this time in the 2008 Republican primary cycle, Barack Obama had more than twice the amount of youth votes of the 2012 Republican candidates, the Center announced today.
That doesn’t sound altogether that impressive, unless you take into account this fact: “After Super Tuesday, Mitt Romney and Ron Paul are essentially tied for the number of youth votes received thus far….although both candidates’ numbers still lag significantly behidn then-candidate Obama’s youth vote total in 2008 in the same states, there has been an uptick since 2008.”
“Paul has 181,000 and Romney 189,000, as compared to eventual ’08 Republican nominee, Senator John McCain’s 164,000 votes in the same states four years ago.”
Now, Romney and Paul have both dramatically increased youth support, with the Texas libertarian being the prime beneficiary of social media campaigns.
At this point in 2008, Paul had 64,000 such votes, but has 181,000 today. Compare to Romney’s “mode modest” upswing: He went from 159,000 to 189,000.
All things considered — especially overall trends in youth voting, it’s not entirely likely that the G.O.P. will overturn such a stronghold of Obama support.
Remember: “Even with the increase this cycle, the Republican Party still has a 265,000 vote deficit from where the Democratic Party was 2008 by this point (900,000),” a CIRCLE pollster said.
Obama’s $135 million campaign “war chest” probably won’t hurt his cause, either.
Follow Victoria Bekiempis @vicbekiempis.