The New York Times reports that the generation that came of age politically during the Obama administration (18 to 24 year-olds) are much less supportive of the president than their slightly older peers. Those voters with only a dim memory of the Bush years are trending more conservative and are more skeptical about what government can do. Given the dismal economic prospects young people are facing, this is not surprising: the unemployment rate for 18 and 19 year-olds is 23.5 percent; for those aged 20–24 it’s 12.9 percent.Still quite a while before November where we will know for sure where the voters will go.
The data supports the anecdotal evidence. A study by the Harvard Institute of Politics found that Barack Obama’s lead over Mitt Romney among this age group is about half of what it is among 25 to 29 year-olds. In a close election, this could have an impact.
Clearly, this represents an opening for Mitt Romney, but taking advantage of it will require a certain finesse. Consider, for example, the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act: one of the law’s most popular provisions is the ability for young adults under the age of 26 to remain on their parents’ health insurance plans. It is worth watching how the Romney campaign balances the commitment to repeal Obamacare “on Day One” while ensuring that young people are not priced out of the market for health insurance.