Young adults might lead the way as early adopters of technology, innovators in creating social networks and trendsetters in fashion, but when it comes to economic policy we seem to be the last to figure it out. My generation of millennials might finally be making the connection between our job prospects, economics and public policy.

A new poll shows that for the first time Mitt Romney now has the support of over 40% of the youth vote, those who are 18 to 29 years old:

Pollster John Zogby of JZ Analytics told Secrets Tuesday that Romney received 41 percent in his weekend poll of 1,117 likely voters, for the first time crossing the 40 percent mark. What's more, he said that Romney is the only Republican of those who competed in the primaries to score so high among 18-29 year olds.

Crossing 40% might not seem like much of a reason to celebrate. But Candidate Obama won the youth vote 2 to 1 in 2008, and polls out earlier this summer still had Obama leading 2 to 1 among young voters.

Why the shift? First, a study came out earlier this year showing that 53.6 percent of people under age 25 with a bachelor’s degree — about 1.5 million people — were unemployed or underemployed, which is the highest percentage in more than a decade. The July jobs report tells us that approximately one in eight Americans ages 18 to 29 is unemployed. Then a number of articles this summer reported just how many young people have been moving home to live in their parents’ basements.  According to a Census Bureau report, “Between 2007 and 2010, the number of adult children who resided in their parents’ households increased by 1.2 million.” And Romney’s VP selection of Paul Ryan, the 42-year-old P90X aficionado who effectively talks about economics and fiercely advocates for free market principles, also likely explains part of the shift.

A recent USA Today/Gallup Poll found that the top-ranked issue for 18 to 29-year-olds is creating good jobs. If job creation is the number one issue and more young voters are supporting a candidate whose policy proposals align better with free market principles, perhaps my peers are making the connection between their own job prospects and our national economic policy. They are realizing that our debt-ridden, sluggish economy is making it more difficult for them to achieve their dreams because of a lack of opportunity to succeed.

Millennials are figuring it out.


(cross-posted at AEIdeas)