Washington Secrets

Mutiny: Younger voters shifted away from Obama

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Politics,Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets

Despite media sneering that they'd stay home playing video games instead of voting, a slightly larger proportion of younger Americans hit the polls on Election Day, many showing up just to vote against President Obama, their 2008 hero.

A new analysis by Generation Opportunity, a youth-focused issues group, revealed Tuesday that Obama's younger voters made an 11-point shift to the Republican, Mitt Romney, the biggest protest movement of any age group in the election. In 2008, Obama beat Sen. John McCain 66 percent to 32 percent among voters aged 18-29, but this year 60 percent chose the president and 37 percent Romney.

What's more, the percentage of younger voters increased slightly from 18 percent in 2008 to 19 percent in 2012, breaking the conventional wisdom. "Young adult turnout actually increased and swung 11 points away from President Obama," said the nonprofit group.

While Obama easily won younger voters, in part because of his campaigning on college campuses where he promised education loan savings, their shift away from him was dramatic compared to other age groups. Generation Opportunity found that voters aged 30-44 shifted to Obama by one point; those 45-64 shifted away from Obama by 5 points and voters 65 and older away by four points. (See graph)

Paul Conway, president of Generation Opportunity, blamed the economy for the youth mutiny. "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," he said.

Conway added, "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 accountable."

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