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Monday, November 12, 2007

Who Likes the Youth Vote?

posted by on November 12 at 12:30 PM

The conventional wisdom has been that Barack Obama is cleaning up among young voters, partly because they like his idea of turning the page on the old battles and grudge-matches of the 1960s (even if some ’60s-era icons don’t like Obama trying to turn the page on them). However, a recent poll suggests that it’s actually Hillary Clinton who leads among young voters. Interesting.

I was at a Clinton campaign organizing event in south Seattle on Saturday morning (more on this in the upcoming Stranger) and heard a young Clinton campaign staffer, keying off the above report, bragging to a largely middle-aged crowd of Clinton supporters about Clinton’s strong support among young people. He was trying to rally local Clinton-backers to help her win the Washington State Democratic Caucuses on Feb. 9.

I took note of this, since I write for a paper with a lot of young readers.

But then, later that night, I read how, over in Iowa, where young Barack Obama supporters were out in force at a big event that is seen as a show of candidates’ pre-Iowa-caucus strength, the Clinton campaign was spinning the large turnout of young people for Obama as a bad sign. The spin:

Obama’s sections are right out of Facebook — young, and unlikely to caucus.

“Youth voters” of America, be warned: In case you didn’t know it already, you too can be used as political fodder—and used to make two different and somewhat opposing points, in two different states, by the same campaign, in the same day.

RSS icon Comments


I don't know what Iowa is like, but it is true that here in Seattle's liberal precincts the caucuses are dominated by woolly holdovers from the McGovern-Vietnam era, who are unlikely to be swayed by Obama's call. They need to be, though; they're killing the party. Tom Hayden has been dead for twenty years, he just doesn't know it yet.

Posted by Fnarf | November 12, 2007 12:46 PM

What is the definition of "young" voters here? Under 60? Under 30?

Posted by la | November 12, 2007 1:14 PM

Interesting... reminds me of the National Socialists' approach in Germany. In liberal, labor-union-friendly Berlin they sucked up to the commies... and in the South, among the conservative old Catholic families of Munich they were supporters of the Right Wingers.
(& remember- they won some elections, until they didn't need to hold them any longer...) ^..^

Posted by herbert browne | November 12, 2007 1:29 PM

I don't think it's too inconsistent, it's just a bit confusing: Hillary has the most support among the young voters, but a large portion of them, like all young voters, won't bother to do anything on polling day. Young people just don't vote. It's that simple. So they can tout their support when it's politically expedient, while attacking Obama for relying / focusing on that same vote elsewhere because - as my favorite political scientist at UW put it last year - 'look for the candidate who is basing their campaign off the 'youth vote'; that person will lose'. There aren't enough dedicated young voters to influence the general election, yet alone the Iowa freaking Caucus.

Posted by Juris | November 12, 2007 2:11 PM

I'm not a "young voter", but my problem with Obama is that he strikes me as a bit immature and of average intelligence. He's said some stupid things about Iran and Pakistan, and I have a hard time imagining what he would actually be like as President (I don't spend too much time trying to imagine this, because he is not going to win).

When Obama gets into one-on-one arguments with Clinton, she mops the floor with him. His responses to her have invariably been flustered and overly simplistic, whereas Clinton's responses reflect the complexity of issues. Obama then attempts to use that against her by saying she didn't answer the question, when she actually did (just not with a True or False answer).

I'm a Kucinich guy myself, but Clinton will win the nomination and the Presidency.

Posted by Mahtli 69 | November 12, 2007 2:39 PM

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