THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT…. There was a front-page piece in the New York Times yesterday, which seemed to suggest that Democrats, on top of all their other election-season troubles, are losing one of the party’s key group of supporters: young people. Relying on research from the Pew Research Center, the NYT reported that “fewer younger voters see themselves as Democrats.”
The college vote is up for grabs this year — to an extent that would have seemed unlikely two years ago, when a generation of young people seemed to swoon over Barack Obama.
Though many students are liberals on social issues, the economic reality of a weak job market has taken a toll on their loyalties: far fewer 18- to 29-year-olds now identify themselves as Democrats compared with 2008.
As it turns out, it depends on how one defines “far.”
Way down in the story, the NYT gets to the data: younger voters’ identification with Dems “peaked at 62 percent in July 2008.” The newest data puts the number at 57 percent.
Paul Waldman’s reaction seemed like the sensible one.
Well now. That doesn’t seem so dramatic anymore, does it? In the heart of a presidential campaign in which the Democrat, a dynamic young candidate, would go on to whip the Republican, a crotchety old candidate, the proportion of young people identifying as Democrats peaked at 62 percent. And now, with the economy in the toilet, the president’s approval ratings in the 40s, and Democrats facing huge losses in November, that number has plummeted all the way to … 57 percent.
What’s more, party I.D. notwithstanding, the same data shows younger voters are more socially progressive and less anti-government than other age groups. That’s not a sign of trouble for Dems; it’s the opposite.
Now all Democrats have to do is figure out how to get these younger voters to care about the midterm elections.