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GOP learns lesson about young vote on election day

votingbooths021512_opt_copyBY PAM LOBLEY
NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM

Young voters — those under the age of 30 — went for Barack Obama in a big way this election. In fact, according the National Journal, if Mitt Romney had won just half of the youth vote in four states: Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia, he would have won the presidency.

The young voted at a 50 percent rate, meaning that half of eligible voters in that age group actually did vote, giving them a higher percentage of the vote total than seniors. Under-30 voters made up 19 percent of the total vote; people over age 65 made up 17 percent.

Clearly, this is a voter block that cannot be ignored by any candidate. Before the vote, it was assumed that young voters would have a low turnout because their age group has been one of the hardest hit by the economy, and because they might be turned off by any negative aspects of the political battle.

But they turned out strongly, and gave President Obama good marks for the economy. They also favor gay marriage by 59 percent, giving Mr. Obama the edge on that issue. They preferred Obama on health care, immigration and women’s issues too.

As reported on the Huffington Post, Heather Smith, president of Rock the Vote, feels that "Young people are savvy. They are committed to this idea right now that participation is how they take back power. They feel their voice is being crushed by corporate and special interest money."

These voters are a diverse group and believe in social equality. Their votes were crucial in passing ballot issues in states to legalize gay marriage. They passed Proposition 30 in California, which raises taxes on the wealthy to help fund public education.

These young voters seem to differ from Republicans on social issues, and the GOP will need to find ways of reaching out to these voters as they plan their future campaigns.

 

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