Youth Vote 2012: Why Democrats Should Not Take Millennials for Granted


Conventional wisdom suggests that the young will inevitably flock to Obama this election season. The youth vote was instrumental in the president's 2008 victory, with 66% of those under 30 voting for Obama, and they were the Democratic Party's most enthusiastic age group in the previous three elections. While the youth vote is still projected to remain firmly in the left, the Democrats should beware of taking any age group for granted.

Early voter turnout has been a major talking point of both campaigns. Each candidate has claimed it as proof of enthusiasm among his party's base. Early reports claim that early voting in Democratic districts is down in Virginia, but that turnout is up in general in Ohio, which may be the most important state in this election. Nervous about the weather the storm would bring, voters across the state cast their vote before November 6. The youth vote was particularly targeted in early-voting campaigns across Ohio. In the neighborhood encircling Ohio State University, over 5,800 early votes were cast, and students from OSU report higher enthusiasm levels among both Republicans and Democrats.

If you are a millennial, this election might matter more than you know. Whether you are a fired up, die-hard partisan devotedly knocking on doors in the rain, or just generally miffed about all of the commotion, it turns out that whoever wins this election might affect you for the rest of your life. A recent study by the Pew Research Center shows that, based upon who was in office when you turned 18, you and your generation will tend toward one party or the other. Those who grew up under Eisenhower, Kennedy or Johnson tend to vote Republican, while those who turned 18 during Clinton, Bush or Obama tend to vote Democrat. 

Will millennials mostly support the Democratic incumbent? Probably. Does that mean the "young" will always drift to the left? Not necessarily.