Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Young and the Restless

Guy Benson at NRO’s Media Blog updates us on recent polling concerning the whippersnappers:

A recent ABC News/Washington Post survey reveals the first nugget of alarming news for Team Obama. As Obamania reached its frenzied pinnacle in March, fully 66 percent of voters 18-29 told pollsters they were "certain" to cast ballots in November. By late July, that figure dropped by a whopping 20 percentage points, with less than half of the youth vote still vowing to go to the polls this fall.

A freshly minted Zogby poll that grabbed headlines by highlighting a dramatic McCain comeback in the overall data also features a fascinating youth vote tidbit: "McCain gained 20% and Obama lost 16% among voters ages 18-29. Obama still leads that group, 49%-38%."

Kids these days can be so fickle.

Let’s make a couple of points.

Point One: Give Tom Maguire credit for this Bold Prediction concerning the youth vote (and bonus points for continuing to pound the table for it):

Now, McCain is 113 years old, so it is not immediately apparent that he will have youth appeal. However, he will do better on that front than people expect (as Reagan did). My secret high school spy met McCain at a barbecue in New Hampshire with about forty people in attendance, and came away very impressed; I think she went with the idea that it would be like going to meet grandpa and listening politely while he rambles on about whatever, and she was surprised by how engaging McCain was.

And second, let’s let Benson continue, to help set up the second point:

Why are young voters suddenly jumping ship or tuning out?

Obama's endless parade of flip-flops — from FISA, to public financing, to offshore drilling, to handguns — may play a central role in the mass exodus. Young voters entered the 2008 election cycle desperate to reject and abandon the tired politics of bitter partisanship and cynical calculation. A naive ambition perhaps, but a pervasive desire nonetheless. They initially embraced Obama as someone who appeared to genuinely share that goal. As the weeks rolled on, though, the once-blinding luster of Obama's "new politics" has been systematically sullied and tarnished. As more young voters begin to perceive Obama as just another politician, his flowery speeches and rhetorical acrobatics are not wearing particularly well. They may even be getting a little lame.

Point Two: Give Joe Klein’s kid credit for being ahead of the curve, this back in the relative halcyon days of July:

I was a little surprised last week when my son asked me, "What's wrong with Senator Obama?" I asked why. "Because he sounds different", he says. Thinking the kid was referring to Obama's recent moves to the center on some issues I tell him every candidate for president repositions for the general election. My son gives me one of those teenage 'what planet are you on' looks and says, "never mind."

It took awhile but I realized my point about Obama's repositioning on Iraq, FISA, etc meant nothing to my kid. All he knew was that the "Obama of Summer" was somehow different than the Yes We Can "Obama of Winter" - and it bothered him. To my kid it wasn't a question of issues, but a perception that somehow Obama had changed.

Finally, we like this line from our Klein post enough to repeat it:

“Hell hath no apathy like youthful romance scorned.”

WHO ARE YOU CALLING COOL: Ann Althouse pushes the idea that nerd cool (Obama) is now cooler than rogue cool (McCain), riffing off of a Maureen Dowd column, and using as evidence the transformation of Paris Hilton from airhead celebrity to presidential candidate with the best energy plan of anyone in the race.

So maybe Obama's drop in the polls is a result of Team McCain painting Obama as an airhead celebrity, coupled with the recent stories of Obama as a muscle-bound jock, who is one of the 25 fittest men in America, leaving some kids without the nerd cool change the've been waiting for?

But polls notwithstanding, that doesn't provide an answer to the ultimate question -- who really is cooler?

Ann says Obama -- Tom says McCain.

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