It’s hard to forget the Obamamania that fueled the 2008 presidential election. Then-Senator Obama’s rolled up sleeves, attractive smile, and energy certainly facilitated a unique enthusiasm among young voters.
While in 2008 Millennials – young adults born between 1981 and 1993 – overwhelmingly supported Obama by a ratio of 2 to 1, this year the bloom has fallen off the rose, and it could pose a problem for Obama’s reelection.
According to a new study – “The Generation Gap and the 2012 Election” – released yesterday by the Pew Research Center, younger voters still support President Obama more than other, older groups of voters; still they are “much less engaged in politics than they were at this stage in the 2008 campaign.”
As discussed on NPR’s Morning Edition today some point to the fact that there is no Democratic primary this year to explain the lackluster enthusiasm among younger voters. Still others say the bottom line is “people are just dissatisfied.”
And they should be. The economic recession of the past 3 years has led to a sharp increase in unemployment among Millenials, many of whom are entering a poor job market and carry huge amounts of debt in the form of student loans.
In the run up to the 2008 election, IWF wrote regularly about the problem of Obama’s “cult of personality,” and urged young voters to look beyond Obama’s superstar status and consider the pressing issues – Social Security, tax reform, job creation, education, environmental regulations, and trade policy – that are so critical for their generation. Perhaps it just took three more years of an economic downturn to catch their attention.
The fact is, since President Obama entered office, the nation’s financial situation has only worsened, with his signature piece of domestic legislation – ObamaCare –expected to add another $1 trillion of new government spending during its first 10 years. What’s more the Obama administration has worked to fundamentally change the American economy, so that government is at the center of nearly everything, from auto manufacturing to agriculture to banking to health care. What’s more, this administration has adopted a winners vs. losers attitude when it comes to spurring economic growth, which is not only fundamentally anti-democratic, but has also failed to bring about economic recovery.
President Obama may be hoping that he can run on his personality again in 2012; but he’s going to find campaigning on a failed economic agenda is going to be an uphill battle, even for the youngest and most optimistic voters.