In post-election analyses, the 11-point drop in the president's
support among 18- to 29-year-olds indicates that particular voting
bloc is falling away from Barack Obama on major issues.
One polling trend that isn't going in Barack Obama's favor after
the presidential election is the drop in his support among young
voters. Even though it might not be as unbelievable as
winning 100 percent of the vote in 59 Philadelphia precincts ─ and
nine Cleveland precincts ─ an 11-point swing in support
away from Obama is lifting some eyebrows on both sides of
the political spectrum ... particularly because that swing comes
from the president's strongest segment of voters.
This 11-percent drop in support among the 18- to 29-year-old age
group is the largest drop in that demographic in U.S. history for
an incumbent president who won re-election.
It begs the question: To what can this largest demographic swing
America's largest grassroots and social media organization
reaching out to that particular age group, Generation Opportunity, has mobilized teams
across the nation to influence and change millions of young adults'
views on a number key political issues.
"President Obama saw the highest defection rate from his margin
of support in 2008 of any age group among young Americans [ages] 18
to 29, who swung away from him by a stunning 11 percentage points,"
says Generation Opportunity president Paul T. Conway. "Underneath
these numbers, young Americans are truly reshaping how they think
about issues like unemployment, job creation, taxes and
And what makes this plunge in support ─ attributed to
disillusionment in the economy and big government ─ so significant
at this time?
"Young people increasingly view the economic policies
coming out of Washington through the lens of unemployment, as they,
their friends and their family members are experiencing the highest
sustained level of unemployment since World War II," Conway points
out. "The fact that young Americans will represent 38 percent of
the electorate by 2020 makes this all the more relevant."
Generation Opportunity began its campaign to inform young
Americans about dangers of expanded government and increased
federal spending in June 2011, as it presented them with a clear
alternative. The campaign was designed to give this sector of
society ─ which has been disgruntled with the broken promises of
the Democratic ticket ─ a new voice.
The grand scale
The movement to turn the tide of complacency ─ with a leftist
ticket that failed to deliver on its promises from four years ago ─
has had no ordinary following. Generation Opportunity mobilized an
innovative campaign that zeroed in on educating young adults via
social media, field events and earned media. This pulled tens of
thousands of young Americans into the political process, registered
new voters nationwide and trained thousands of conservative
activists to get the word out via radio program appearances,
letters to the editor and town halls.
The grassroots organization's impressive online
presence pulled in more than 4 million "Millennials" who made up
its Facebook fan base, which produced some 1.1
billion views, along with 9 million+ interactions that included
likes, comments and social shares that made conservative messaging
on the economy go viral.
GO's ground force was equally as impressive.
"Generation Opportunity's field organizers engaged, in person,
over 250,000 young adults at over 600 targeted events nationwide,"
reads a statement denoting the operation's magnitude. "Major
events included the League of Latin American Citizens (LULAC)
annual convention, American Student Government Association
leadership conference, the National Hispanic Chamber of Commerce,
and over 500 state, county and community events, such as Earth Day
festivals, concerts, sporting events, farmers markets and various
Young people were organized by the organization's field team in
numerous states across the nation, including North Carolina,
Missouri, Massachusetts, Virginia, Maine, Florida, New Hampshire,
New Mexico, Ohio, California, New Jersey, Nevada and many
Results at the polls showed that the multi-front campaign made a
huge difference from the last election, particularly on its
"In 2008, then-Senator Barack Obama won 18-29 year olds by 34
points (66 percent to 32 percent)," Generation Opportunity reports.
"This year, President Obama won 18-29 year olds by 23 points (60
percent to 37 percent). The youth vote swung 11 points away from
President Obama, more than twice any other age demographic. No
other demographic showed movement anywhere near this: 30-44 showed
+1 percent point increase in support for Obama from 2008; 45-64
showed -5 percent decrease in support for Obama since 2008; and 65+
showed -4 percent decrease in support for Obama since 2008." (More details on this from Generation
Defying the odds
If there was one voting bloc that the Obama team thought would
repeat its dominating performance from 2008, it was the 18- to
29-year-olds. Confident that Romney wouldn't be able to chip away
at the president's support in this sector, the Obama
administration, along with major media outlets and grassroots
organizations, all forecasted that the numbers on November 6 would
reflect their conventional wisdom.
But come the big day, these household names
discovered they had it all wrong. The Associated Press,
Pew and the Huffington Post all anticipated that less young voters
would show up at the polls in 2012 when compared with the 2008
turnout, but polling numbers actually shot up one percent from 18
percent to 19 percent with this segment. The three also missed the
mark when projecting that the president would at least equal his
margin of victory in 2008 with young Americans, but the deficit
over his opponent actually dwindled from 34 points to 23 points in
And Generation Opportunity is poised to continue to be a spoiler
into the future, announcing plans to augment its comprehensive
campaign over the next two years. It promises an even more
assertive deployment on the state and national level going into the
next election. GO's president wasted no time in letting the
nation's president know that millions of young Americans will be
watching his every move in the months ahead, which will affect the
outcome of 2016.
"In the days ahead, it will be important for President Obama to
remember that young Americans want meaningful, full-time jobs in
their career paths of choice and are increasingly looking for less
government involvement in their daily lives," Conway contends.
"They have given the President another opportunity to fulfill
his promises, to match his actions to his rhetoric, and to
demonstrate an ability to achieve results in these areas. Over
the next days and years, young Americans will watch carefully to
see if the President honors his commitments; and if he fails to do
so, they will continue to work with organizations like Generation
Opportunity to hold him and his allies in Congress
Conway further reminds America that the battlefield is no longer
won on the conventional fronts of TV debates, commercials, signs
and speaking events ─ the campaigning of the future must be fought
digitally by bombarding a more technically savvy society on their
computers and mobile devices.
"For future campaigns, the results of the 2012 presidential
election further demonstrate, yet again, that to succeed in
garnering the support of young Americans, they must engage them
fully in social media and must embrace the technologies that young
Americans utilize to inform their opinions," Conway argues.
"More importantly, campaigns need to demonstrate that they
respect the intelligence and influence of young Americans and
provide them the content necessary for individuals to reach their
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