The first primary of 2012 is now over. But the fight over free enterprise continues, even in the Republican primary. And the youth vote numbers show that young Republican voters care about this issue and the attacks on free enterprise are not resonating with young voters. Mitt Romney won the New Hampshire primary, getting approximately 39% of the vote. Ron Paul finished second with 23%, Jon Huntsman with 17%, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum each with about 9% and Rick Perry with 1%.
Young voters would have picked a different winner. According to the Fox News exit poll, in New Hampshire, Paul won approximately 47% of votes of people ages 18-29, with Romney winning 25%, Huntsman winning 14%, Santorum winning 8% and Gingrich winning 3%.
This primary occurred after Republican candidates came out swinging for Romney, criticizing his work in the private sector at Bain Capital. These appear to be desperate last attempts by candidates. At his New Hampshire victory party, Romney responded:
President Obama wants to put free enterprise on trial, and the last few days we've seen some desperate Republicans join forces with him. This is such a mistake for our party.
Paul also won the youth vote in Iowa. In Iowa, 48% of the Republican caucus goers ages 18-29 supported Paul, 23% supported Santorum and 14% supported Romney.
Despite the attacks on free enterprise, the two candidates most outspoken about the importance of free enterprise overwhelmingly won the youth vote in New Hampshire. Paul markets himself as the candidate most supportive of free enterprise and liberty, and he is the candidate winning the youth vote. Young voters might be seen as the most easily persuaded by these attacks, since we are traditionally more idealistic and have less work experience. Also, let's not forget President Obama's victory among young voters in 2008. However, this attack on free enterprise did not resonate with young voters in New Hampshire and I don’t think it will resonate with young voters going forward. The New Hampshire numbers show that young people are committed to continuing the fight for freedom, which is one good thing that came out of the attack ads.