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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

GOP Focus Groups Reveal Strategy for Appeal to Young Voters

GOP political strategists Ed Goeas and Ed Gillespie have a memo, “The Disillusioned Obama Young Voter” which merits consideration by Dems charged with formulating a strategy to secure a strong pro-Obama youth vote in November. As the authors explain:

As part of our Target Voter Series, Resurgent Republic sponsored four focus groups among Generation-Y voters ages 23 to 30 in Raleigh, North Carolina and Columbus, Ohio. These voters self-identified as Independents, voted for President Obama in 2008, but are undecided on the generic presidential ballot today. Conducted by The Tarrance Group, the focus groups were split between voters ages 23 to 26 (those in college or new to the workforce in 2008) and 27 to 30 years old (those beginning their professional career in 2008).
In 2008, President Obama won two-thirds of 18-to-29 year olds (66 to 32
percent). This was following President Bush’s 9-point disadvantage among this age group against John Kerry in 2004 (45 to 54 percent) and a near tie between President Bush and Al Gore in 2000 (46 to 48 percent). Despite President Obama’s strong performance in 2008, young voters today tend to be the most negative about the direction of the country. Indeed, recent public polling reports 68 percent of 18-to-29 year old voters think the country is headed on the wrong track – a higher percentage than supported Obama four years ago

The authors concede that “young voters’ ongoing frustration does not mean that they will outright abandon Obama, as was evident in the Ohio groups, but it should call into question their reliability to turnout for him this November barring any changes.” They cite the differences in unemployment experienced by youth in Ohio and North Carolina and note a litany of predictable economic concerns shared by the young voters.
Looking toward the future, Gillespie and Goeas see trouble ahead for Dems regarding young voter concerns about rising gas prices and “a candidate who presents a solid plan backed with substantive change.” They may be overstating the case since other polls show President Obama enjoying solid support from young voters. But the memo serves as an informative preview of the GOP’s coming campaign to win/neutralize a critical mass of young voters.

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