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Greg Mankiw on the Youth Vote:

Greg Mankiw has a chart illustrating the dramatic drop in the youth vote for McCain versus Bush. He concludes:

So what does the Republican Party need to do to get the youth vote back? If these Harvard students are typical (and perhaps they are not, as Harvard students are hardly a random sample), the party needs to scale back its social conservatism. Put simply, it needs to become a party for moderate and mainstream libertarians. The actual Libertarian Party is far too extreme in its views to attract these students. And it is too much of a strange fringe group. These students are, after all, part of the establishment. But a reformed Republican Party could, I think, win them back.

Can the Republican Party move in this direction without losing much of its base? I have no idea, but for the GOP, that seems to be the challenge ahead.

I'm still not sure what to make of the youth voters. I noted yesterday that looking at the exit polls, it appears that the two most pro-Obama groups in the election were under-29 and 50-64 cohort, which roughly corresponds to Baby Boomers and their kids.

One experienced political hand told me in an email that "youth are notoriously fickle" and that in his view it is just a matter of finding an attractive candidate (like Obama). And while that is likely part of it, it doesn't seem like the full story to me.

If I had to guess, it wasn't just that Obama attracted young voters, it is also that George Bush had a dramatic negative effect in driving away young voters. In this sense, I think back to myself and my generation, attending college in the 1980s. At that time, my tendency toward libertarian/conservatism was as much a negative reaction to Jimmy Carter and liberalism as an attraction to Ronald Reagan and conservatism (as well as the influence of my parents).

One final note--Mankiw notes that his students generally prefer free market economic policies and liberal social policies (which is why he sees them as libertarian). One thing to keep in mind is that today's recent college grads have been raised in an environment of about 25 years of virtually uninterrupted economic prosperity, with some minor downturns, but nothing major. I suspect that this has contributed to a general lack of urgency on the economic issues relative to social issues and environmentalism. When I was a kid, the economy and my family finances were dominated by stagflation, gas shortages, and international decline (remember the Iran hostage situation and helicopters crashing in the desert?).

I suspect that this backdrop has something to do with how people form their political beliefs. Today's students have been able to take prosperity and basically sound economic policies for granted (until recently, perhaps, but we are still well below the misery of the Carter years). So economics haven't been burning issues and so they've emphasized lifestyle and symbolic issues. When I was a kid, it didn't feel like we could take economic prosperity for granted, and that was something that dominated our worldview. The real question becomes what happens if economic times become more challenging or if efforts on environmental regulation substantially impact economic prosperity (as Bill Niskanen suggests). Not to mention the fact that this looks like a vote to put off for at least another four years the ticking time bomb of Social Security and Medicare (Niskanen again). My hope for the good of the country, of course, is that we won't confront a major economic slowdown that forces a renewed focus on economic issues.

I have no idea what this means for the future of the youth vote. But if it means that the Republican Party (and I hope the Democrats too) move in a more libertarian direction, then sign me up.

Update:

Readers may be interested that there are some really terrific comments to this post that I found very informative. In addition to some interesting comments from younger readers I should also acknowledge that several readers pointed out the importance of national security issues and the Cold War when I was coming of age. Shows how much the world has changed that I had sort of forgot about how important it was at the time. I mentioned "international decline" but it is hard to remember how important good old-fashioned national security was at the time, so I adopt those points in the comments by reference here.

astrangerwithcandy (mail):

One experienced political hand told me in an email that "youth are notoriously fickle" and that in his view it is just a matter of finding an attractive candidate (like Obama)


this guy is correct.

you are waaay over analyzing it and giving too much credit to the youth vote (of which i am at the old end). it was cool to vote for obama and be anti-bush. if you had a substantive policy conversation with 90% of the 18-25 voters, i am sure you would be underwhelmed.
11.6.2008 4:02pm
Ex-Fed (mail) (www):
Wow, looks like they got off his lawn.
11.6.2008 4:03pm
js5 (mail):
the libertarian party is too extreme to appeal to students? That's laughable.
11.6.2008 4:05pm
astrangerwithcandy (mail):
thats not to say there aren't lots of smart young obama voters out there. just don't think the overwhelming swing to obama had much to do with policy.
11.6.2008 4:05pm
TPJ (mail):
Don't forget you've had Stewart, Colbert, and SNL excoriating Bush and all things Republican for the past 8 years.
11.6.2008 4:12pm
elcaminoabby (mail):
I'm in agreement with Mankiw's assessment. I'm 24, have a degree in engineering (though hardly from Harvard), and I'd vote Libertarian if the Libertarian party wasn't mildly terrifying. I'm full-on for free market economics but my conscience won't let me throw my lot in with the GOP. In my lifetime (or the past decade while I've been congnizant of politics) the Repubilican party has alienated or insulted my gay and lesbian friends, my less-than-evangelical family, as well as feminists, immigrants, and scientists. So pretty much everyone I know.

Maybe that's my midwestern upbringing and Baby Boomer parents talking.
11.6.2008 4:13pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
My kids and their friends and siblings-in-law are all more socially conservative than their parents, including me.
Harvard is possibly the worst place, outside of a Unitarian-Universalist conference, to admit to social conservatism.
None of the Cool Kids do it and the authority figures will sneer.
11.6.2008 4:13pm
A.C.:
Re: economic vs. lifestyle issues --

Check out Ron Inglehart's stuff on postmaterialism.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Post-materialism
11.6.2008 4:22pm
Tolley Jenkins (mail):
Of course young people are socially liberal. You don't become socially conservative until you're old enough to have had one of the gays steal away your children and ruin your marriage!!
11.6.2008 4:22pm
New World Dan (www):
I've been voting Libertarian since my early 20s. astrangerwithcandy is correct that a policy conversation with most younger voters would be terribly underwhelming. Obama sold that crowd with largely 3 things - that he has integrity, intelligance, and that he is not a theocrat.
11.6.2008 4:24pm
Nunzio:
I voted for the first time back in 1992 when there was also a pretty good youth turnout vote.

I liked George H.W. Bush but wasn't really in favor of Gulf War, was tired of one-party controlling the WH for so long, and liked Bill Clinton's youthful optimism and most of his policy views (after watching the Dems put up Mondale and Dukakis as candidates Clinton was actually a very credible candidate).

I hope that most of the young who voted for Obama are free trade, market economy types as well.
11.6.2008 4:24pm
wm13:
I am about the same age as Prof. Zywicki (I finished college in 1981). In addition to the economic issues, one should remember that those of our generation spent most of our youth watching the United States be humiliated overseas by disgusting, tyrannical regimes, with no response by the U.S. government. First the collapse in Vietnam, then Poland, then Afghanistan, then the Iranian hostage crisis (plus probably one or two I have forgotten). A muscular and assertive foreign policy appealed to many.

In contrast, today's young people have seen the United States (under both Clinton and Bush) as an assertive, sometimes arrogant military hyperpower, from Kosovo to Iraq. I think many of them wish for a more diplomatic and pacific approach. I doubt that such an approach will work--remember that moron Jimmy Carter babbling about how "disappointed" he was by the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan?--but I may be wrong.
11.6.2008 4:29pm
Ben P:

I'm in agreement with Mankiw's assessment. I'm 24, have a degree in engineering (though hardly from Harvard), and I'd vote Libertarian if the Libertarian party wasn't mildly terrifying.


Except for being 25 and a law student, that describes me pretty well too.
11.6.2008 4:30pm
Michael D:
Are Harvard students really representative of typical college students? This also seems to me to be typical of a particular type of college student. Many students with an interest in economics tend to be more libertarian.
11.6.2008 4:41pm
MisterBigTop (mail):
As easy as it is to put the blame on social conservatives, I think much of the youth vote is due to normal youthnature (rebelling against the status quo) and the war.

For example, take Ron Paul. He's a federalist, but he's strongly anti-abortion. He'd love to see SCOTUS overrule Roe and return the issue to the states so his home state could ban it. However, for some reason or the other, he became popular on the Internet due to his anti-war stance and his outspokenness. Once he was out, those same young people flocked to Obama. Obama and Ron Paul couldn't be more different.
11.6.2008 4:47pm
Steve:
I doubt that such an approach will work--remember that moron Jimmy Carter babbling about how "disappointed" he was by the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan?--but I may be wrong.

Heh, Carter signed off on the policies that provoked the invasion of Afghanistan. He wasn't actually disappointed, it was the exact result he was aiming for.
11.6.2008 4:52pm
Fub:
I have no idea what this means for the future of the youth vote.
Nor do I. But I did observe one striking (and possibly very local) thing when I went to vote Tuesday.

The poll workers, for the first time in the 35+ years I have voted in the same precinct, were overwhelmingly younger. Almost all appeared to me to be under 35 years old. Most also had an attitude of enthusiasm, as distinct from the "business as usual" but generally positive attitude I had come to expect.

Heretofore, as I recall, most poll workers had been 35 or older, with several 50-60 and older. But this time I saw none who appeared to be over 40, and most appeared to be fresh out of high school or just starting college.

Their attitudes struck me as very enthusiastic, even bubbly and gushing as if they were working a store counter selling some new techno-gadget, as distinct from just pleasant and businesslike. Maybe that was just the enthusiasm of youth working at a polling place for the first time. But it did seem very odd, almost surreal.
11.6.2008 4:52pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Republicans' social conservativism attracts the vote of youths who abstain from sex.

Problem is, the last time I checked, most of America's youth consists of: (1) people having sex and (2) people who wish they were.
11.6.2008 4:57pm
social conservative:
This is a serious issue. I, by an reasonable measure, would be counted as a social conservative: against gay marriage (in fact, I believe it's on its face nonsensical), truly believe abortion is killing an innocent life, and so on. But I'm also an adult. That means I recognize that the world is the way it is and not always the way I want it to be.

And looking at these exit polls and a lot of other similar data it is becoming increasingly clear that social conservatives (like me) are simply failing to convince young people to agree with us. We have tried to persuade them and failed. I'm still convinced I'm right and they are being foolish, but that doesn't change the fact that they're not convinced at best, and downright threatened by social conservatives like me at worst.

So a good question is what to do next. On could make the following pragmatic argument. If we keep pushing on social issues, it increasingly looks like it will just cause Republicans to lose on all fronts more and more as this group ages, so we shouldn't. But you also have to worry about alienating social conservatives. Abandoning social conservatives by simply telling them that their votes are a net negative tears apart the only coalition that this country has had recently for potentially delivering free market economic policies and non-utopian foreign policies.

Unlike many posters here, however, I think social conservatives are not actually totalitarians. If they had a choice between a dictatorship that enforced their social policies or a democracy which enforced social policies they disagreed with, they would choose the democracy. These are people who are swayed by moral arguments and there is a moral argument behind the government deriving its authority from the consent of the governed, even when the governed are wrong and want the wrong thing.

So I think the main problem is that social conservatives are not yet sufficiently convinced they are in the minority. As this becomes more clear, (through Republicans social conservatives losing more and more elections) they will become less insistent on using government (force) to get their way on social issues, withdraw from political life, and become more involved in creating private institutions which shield them from what they see as a toxic culture.

So how do you keep them voting Republican? I don't know the answer but my guess is to present the Republican party as the party of American founding father's type individualism. You can have a nanny or you can have a government treat you like an adult. That might be able to garner a majority.
11.6.2008 4:57pm
Andrew M:
As a member of the "youth vote" (22, recent engineering grad), I and many of my friends am strongly drawn to the libertarian platform, and are loathe to see the divisions in the GOP base. While I do not agree with all the social positions of the libertarian party, so long as my money is not subsidizing something I find immoral, I can go along with it.
11.6.2008 5:00pm
Constantin:
We'll see what happens in four years when Obama isn't sticking it to The Man, but he is The Man.

This was 100% about culture.
11.6.2008 5:05pm
CJColucci:
You can be a social conservative, and even effectively advance social conservatism if you're so inclined, without adhering to a political program of social conservatism. It would probably be a good thing if the Republican party abandoned its political program of social conservatism, and simply acted like a bunch of responsible grown-ups. When I was a lad, the Republicans were the party of responsible grown-ups: crew-cut men in lab coats, fellows in suits who could read a balance sheet, who would puncture your flights of fancy with down-to-earth facts, and take away the punchbowl when the party got out of hand. While they themselves usually kept to the straight and narrow, they didn't poke around in your life unless you were making too much noise and frightening the kids. That kind of Republicanism might still attract people. And even Democrats should favor it, because no party can keep control forever, and it's in the national interest that the opposition party be sane.
11.6.2008 5:05pm
RBL:
Man, this was totally what I was looking for.

I came across this site at a time when I was flirting with the idea of libertarianism. I'm 25 now, and it's accurate to say that I took economic prosperity as a given, and I voted on my social conscience (which tends to be that even the Democrats, collectively, are not left enough for me). And given how important my social values are to me, I never bothered to figure out my economic values, since I knew I would never feel strongly enough about economic policy to vote Republican. And so I checked out Libertarians, whose most common description is probably "socially liberal, fiscally conservative."

In the past couple months, as posts about Libertarians and voting increased in frequency, I found it sort of bewildering that Libertarians appeared to vote overwhelmingly Republican (to the extent they voted for one of the two major parties). To me, the description of "socially liberal, fiscally conservative," suggested some parity in weighing those two philosophies. And this post addresses some of that, that some Libertarians are coming from a background where they _are_ inclined to weigh economic policy more heavily--rather than due to something intrinsic in the Libertarian philosophy.

But I wonder--are Libertarian demographics skewed enough to imply that the pre-80s were enough to affect this voting imbalance? Or is it something intrinsic to Libertarian views? Or perhaps the definition of socially "liberal" not matching the Democrats' definition of "liberal"?
11.6.2008 5:11pm
Kelly (mail):
I'm in that age cohort (and attended a southern public university, not Harvard) and I generally agree with Mankiw's position. I would describe myself as socially liberal and economically conservative, as would most of my friends. The GOP's current problem with the youth vote is that they are neither of those things.

Beyond that, there is little about the last 8 years that would be attractive to voters who did not already have positive feelings about the Republican Party. In order to avoid discussing Bush this cycle, McCain and others kept grasping for comparisons to Reagan. But I was 6 when Reagan left office and that comparison lacks the meaning that it has for voters that came of age during the late 70's and 80's. For young voters, especially less sophisticated ones, Republican philosophy is synonymous with Bush. I think it's going to take quite a while for the GOP to overcome that obstacle. And if the Obama presidency is a successful one, the GOP may have lost those voters for good.
11.6.2008 5:12pm
jb (mail):
"In my lifetime (or the past decade while I've been congnizant of politics) the Repubilican party has alienated or insulted my gay and lesbian friends, my less-than-evangelical family, as well as feminists, immigrants, and scientists. So pretty much everyone I know."

Well said! 2000 was the first presidential election I got to vote in and I basically held my nose and voted for Gore almost soley based on the creationist/pro-life rhetoric of Bush (and the strong suspicion that he was an ignoramus). Since then he has given me new reasons to vote Democrat (I used to think the Republicans were the adults on foreign policy, ha!). I still do not consider the Democratic party to be my home as they have done nothing to attract me, I've just been forced to support them.
11.6.2008 5:17pm
jb (mail):
"In my lifetime (or the past decade while I've been congnizant of politics) the Repubilican party has alienated or insulted my gay and lesbian friends, my less-than-evangelical family, as well as feminists, immigrants, and scientists. So pretty much everyone I know."

Well said! 2000 was the first presidential election I got to vote in and I basically held my nose and voted for Gore almost soley based on the creationist/pro-life rhetoric of Bush (and the strong suspicion that he was an ignoramus). Since then he has given me new reasons to vote Democrat (I used to think the Republicans were the adults on foreign policy, ha!). I still do not consider the Democratic party to be my home as they have done nothing to attract me, I've just been forced to support them.
11.6.2008 5:17pm
Nunzio:
Social conservative and libertarian-oriented voters should finally be able to agree on a strong national defense (and defense does not mean the Iraq war, defense earmarks, etc.), a market-based, free-trade economy, fiscal discipline, and as reasonably limited in size a federal government as majority of voters can plausibly tolerate.

President Bush's administration was fiscally reckless, led the charge for big government, anti-federalist (Terri Schiavo, Raich, Ashcroft co-opting the CSA in the Oregon patient-assisted suicide, and the Partial-Birth Abortion Act), and reckless in its use of military power.

Also, President Bush's penchant for stocking agencies with political hacks and cronies (heckuva job, Brownie and U.S. Attorney firings) was intolerable.

If social conservatives and libertarian types can't agree on this, then the Republican party will be a regional party.
11.6.2008 5:24pm
Cornellian (mail):
If social conservatives and libertarian types can't agree on this, then the Republican party will be a regional party.

The problem is they claimed to have agreed on it, then when they got elected they didn't do it. So why should anyone believe them if they now say again that they believe in it?
11.6.2008 5:38pm
Barry_D (mail):
CJColucci:
"You can be a social conservative, and even effectively advance social conservatism if you're so inclined, without adhering to a political program of social conservatism. "

True, but it doesn't describe current social conservatives.

"It would probably be a good thing if the Republican party abandoned its political program of social conservatism, and simply acted like a bunch of responsible grown-ups. "

There are a couple of problems: first, the social conservatives might prefer to run the GOP, rather than being abandoned; second, the irresponsible brat faction of the GOP also includes the financial/economic faction (note the smoking ruin of Wall St, once the right-wing got through with it, and multi-trillion dollar debt increases), and the foreign policy group (i.e., neoconmen).

There just aren't enough responsible Republicans left anywhere near the positions of control of that party.


When I was a lad, the Republicans were the party of responsible grown-ups: crew-cut men in lab coats, fellows in suits who could read a balance sheet, who would puncture your flights of fancy with down-to-earth facts, and take away the punchbowl when the party got out of hand.
11.6.2008 5:41pm
Barry_D (mail):
Sorry, the block beginning with 'When I was a lad, ...' was supposed to be quoted (or simply deleted.
11.6.2008 5:41pm
Blar (mail) (www):
I think the main reason is pretty simple. If you're young, Republicans are the party of George W. Bush, and Democrats are the party of Bill Clinton &opposition to Bush. Not a hard choice.

Put another way, older people tend to get locked into a party, so they don't react as much when one party's leader becomes extremely unpopular. Many young people weren't locked in yet, so they were freer to respond to the Bush years.
11.6.2008 5:43pm
Nunzio:
Blar,

The 50-64 cohort were pretty big Reagan backers, so I don't think there's necessarily a life-long locking into place.

There's certainly good reasons for them to vote for Obama now just as there were good reasons for them to vote for Reagan in '80 and '84.
11.6.2008 6:01pm
Gabrielle:
As a young voter, I would say that most of the people my age think they are 1-liberal or 2- having taken and understood economics, libertarian.

My peers are the kids of baby boomers, and those liberal ideas were reaffirmed growing up comfortably under Clinton, then realizing things aren't so rosy under Bush. Many think Republicans are selfish bigots. They don't want to listen to arguments for social conservatism, they just block it out.
11.6.2008 6:05pm
Bored Lawyer:
Proffesor:

I am shocked that you present only two facets of policy: economic issues vs. social ones. How about the missing elephant in the room: national security?

When I was growing up (70's and 80's), there was a real fear of nuclear war, and national security issues loomed large. Since the fall of Communism, those issues have receded or been taken for granted. For those who grew up in the Clinton era, physical security was taken for granted.

I thought that would change after 9/11. But that issue remarkably seems to have faded in the last election. There was little discussion about how each candidate would keep the country safe from those kinds of attacks.
11.6.2008 6:12pm
Vermando (mail) (www):
Great point about the youth often voting more in protest. Indeed, President Bush did a lot to drive us away.

Also great point about the uninterrupted economic prosperity we have enjoyed. I would combine with this the insight that Clinton's presidency was an enormous economic success. I marveled at how my father and uncle were so worried about crazy democratic policies that would stymy economic growth, and I think it was a major reason that Republican fears about "redistribution" or "spreading the wealth" just didn't resonate with us. Hopefully it stays that way and we don't find out why our elders have their fears.

Building on your insights, you can appreciate the damage Bush has done to the Republican Party by damaging its credibility in the same way that President Clinton helped the Democratic Party. Any future national Republican will have to convince voters that he's "not another Bush," and as the difficulties democrats rebuilding their own credibility demonstrates, that is not an enviable position from which to run a campaign.
11.6.2008 6:25pm
Constantin:
If Clinton helped the Democratic Party so much, why'd it take them from Jan 1995 until yesterday to reassume the White House/House/Senate rule he inherited?

The majority of the "youths" that turned out for Obama this week did so because it was the rad thing to do. It's more fun to be in on the joke with Jon Stewart, and not to be the one he's sneering at.
11.6.2008 6:50pm
Kelly (mail):

The majority of the "youths" that turned out for Obama this week did so because it was the rad thing to do. It's more fun to be in on the joke with Jon Stewart, and not to be the one he's sneering at.


The 18-29 age group made up about 18% of a voting population of approximately 130 million. 66% of them voted for Obama. Therefore, Obama received over 15 million votes from young voters. The Daily Shows' highest ratings ever were about 3.5 million viewers, of which I assume at least a few were over 30.

I think you need a better explanation than Jon Stewart made them do it.
11.6.2008 7:10pm
Tolley Jenkins (mail):
Is Constantin Bill O'Reilly?

Seriously, do we need to over-analyze why 25 year olds would presumptively lean towards the candidate 25 years younger than the other one? The discrepancy in age between the candidates this year was much larger than in the past two elections. "Relatability" counts for something.
11.6.2008 7:16pm
elenathehun (mail) (www):
Hmm, I'd disagree with one of Mankiw's observations: outside of the economics department or business school, the average college student doesn't understand the importance of free trade, to pick one issue. Also, national security is for squares, and regulation is always the right answer. *shrugs* They're kids. What do you expect? Maybe the Republican party should change to appeal to them. But if social issues are the be-all and end-all of national politics, the GOP is never going to out-liberal the Democrats.
11.6.2008 7:26pm
Constantin:
No, Kelly, I didn't mean it literally re Jon Stewart. And no, I'm not Bill O'Reilly. But I stand by my assessment that this had nothing to do with issues and everything to do with culture.

Try getting it drilled into your head your entire life that "diversity" is the most important value in the entire world. Then imagine that you get a chance to pat yourself on the back for adhering to it and everyone else cool is doing it too. There's your answer.
11.6.2008 7:35pm
Brian K (mail):
if you had a substantive policy conversation with 90% of the 18-25 voters, i am sure you would be underwhelmed.

you can say the same thing about 90% of republican voters. "taxes are bad" or "abortion is bad" or "gays are bad" is about all it would boil down to.
11.6.2008 8:01pm
Perseus (mail):
if you had a substantive policy conversation with 90% of the 18-25 voters, i am sure you would be underwhelmed.

you can say the same thing about 90% of republican voters.


As Ilya Somin might say, you could say the same thing about ALL voters due to rational ignorance. I suspect that it's worse among the young.
11.6.2008 8:06pm
Cool Kid:
As a youth voter myself, I just wanted to voice my objection to all the commenters who suggested that young people voted for Obama because he/it was "cool." While it certainly didn't hurt that Obama is someone young people can relate to culturally, everyone my age that I know voted for him on the basis of substance. I have to wonder if those who dismissed us as just doing the "rad thing" because Jon Stewart told us to have actually talked to any young voters recently. It turns out that we care.
11.6.2008 8:20pm
Justin L (mail):

Obama sold that crowd with largely 3 things - that he has integrity, intelligance, and that he is not a theocrat.


This is pretty much it. After the last 8 years of utter incompetence and outright lies, and the previous 8 years of melodrama and 'spin', Obama sounded like an intelligent, honest adult who spoke seriously about issues. You might disagree with that view of him, but that's what most of my friends think. This generation has a pretty good BS meter, and it didn't register for Obama.

Oh, and inspiration helps. The last eight years have been downright depressing to become politically aware in, and it's good to have someone who actually makes you feel good about the country.

But I agree, young people could leave him if his presidency fails. If he ends up being a very successful President in the face of these problems? Then Republicans have entirely lost this generation and they are in big trouble.
11.6.2008 8:26pm
Greg Q (mail) (www):
I've got lots of friends in that age range,, none of them know a thing about politics. Voting for Obama made them feel good, and so that was it.

If Obama is a competent President, they'll stick with the Democrats, and the Republicans will be in trouble. If he's not, they'll drop the Democrats like a soiled dress.
11.6.2008 9:14pm
American Psikhushka (mail):
elcaminoabby (and others)-

...and I'd vote Libertarian if the Libertarian party wasn't mildly terrifying.

What do you find mildy terrifying about the Libertarian party?
11.6.2008 9:17pm
Bama 1L:
Professor Zywicki makes a number of excellent points.

People who are under 29 today are just getting their first look at an economic crisis. Their enthusiasm for free markets is about to get tested when they find themselves unable to land the jobs they thought they'd be a lock for. I found it very frustrating a couple years back when 23-year-olds would stridently insist that real estate prices would always go up, the economy would always expand, etc. That is not the case, and you have to roll with the punches and occasionally adjust your views.

(To anyone wondering, I'm older than my handle would suggest and probably don't count as a youth voter.)
11.6.2008 9:18pm
nicestrategy (mail):

I have to wonder if those who dismissed us as just doing the "rad thing" because Jon Stewart told us to have actually talked to any young voters recently. It turns out that we care.


Bravo. I have seen lots of data that shows the rising generation as more engaged with society, with higher rates of volunteerism and political activism. For a while I was disappointed not to see much of that at my school, which, in comparison to other nearby high schools, was a sea of apathy. In the past few years, that has turned around noticeably, with a proliferation of political clubs and individual kids taking off to protest things up in the city. Tomorrow, a good number of students are dressing in black to protest the passage of Prop 8, which was met with a degree of outrage that I haven't seen from students before. This has been a rather liberal community since ever, but young people are more engaged than they used to be, and while many are ill-informed (as are many adults), disrespect them at your peril. It turns out that many of them care, and have come to the conclusion that the GOP mortgaged their future and acted like a bunch of bullies. If Obama has a reasonably successful first term, he'll have a realignment.

Also, if you think that diversity is a fad, look at the demographics of the country. It's the future. God forbid we teach kids a core value of respecting others regardless of their traits or background. It's the Golden Rule. If young people are going to live the Golden Rule and not just pay it lip service, we'll have a better country, but one that will be harder for a nearly all-white party with a deep streak of intolerance to gain ground in.

Also, the young have been raised in a multitasking, interconnected world. Information is not controlled by authority. Propaganda can be debunked. There are no secrets. Everyone has issues. A worldview that emphasized judgment over forgiveness cannot thrive in this new extremely open environment. There has been a paradigm shift, and it isn't the Daily Show, its facebook. The party of orthodoxy can't thrive in an open, dynamic, culture.

It is the greatest irony of our age: people sitting behind computer screens are re-energizing a sense of community. That the culture has many overlapping communities that people can navigate and explore does not bode well for a mindset of top-down authority and teaching.

The party of hierarchy? The party of authority? The party of absolutism?

I think the GOP is doomed unless Obama fails.

The Revolution will not be televised. The revolution is live.
11.6.2008 9:25pm
David W:
I'm 24; I voted McCain (although was tempted by Barr), but most of my office voted Obama. Their reason? They were successfully convinced that the Republicans are the Stupid party, and they don't believe in an Evil party.

Most talked about were the Sarah Palin/Katie Couric interview, and her performance in the debate. In those venues, she came off as dumb, and Biden as intelligent. Combine that with the Dubya stereotype from the past few years, and the successful painting of the R's as the anti-science party, and that did it. No one looked any deeper - they already 'knew' that Palin was an idiot and therefore McCain who chose her must be one too.

So, the way I see it, the election was lost when the Republicans let the Democrats frame the debate. They need articulate people who appear intelligent, they need to focus the debate on those topics where Dems are dogmatic rather than reasoned, and so on. And they absolutely absolutely need to make the MSM marginal, so that they can answer the types of questions that make them look smart, not the ones that haven't been considered yet.
11.6.2008 9:38pm
matts117:
As a 30-year old who spent election night with a group of 22 to 30 year olds, I'd say the bottom line is that a large portion of young voters have grown up with a Republican party they view as too individualistic and full of self-serving bigots. They (we) view government as having a valid and important role in society - a role that has been abdicated under Republican leadership. McCain's calls for lower taxes and less government only reinforce the view that Republicanism is about blind loyalty to small government, when what we want is smart government.

We also view Republican calls for less government as painfully hypocritical - our childhood and young adulthood has shown a Republican party that prides itself on invasive action to block to common sense social progress, as a proponent of ballot initiatives on gay marriage and abortion.

If the Republican party were to recast itself as a party of smart government that acts responsibly and respectfully toward its citizens, then it might have a chance with the new generation of voters.

So to summarize what many of us feel: Republicans believe in smaller government (even when we need regulation and even when laissez faire capitalism won't work), lower taxes (even when the government needs more revenue) and invading our friends lives to tell them how to live their lives (even when that invasion undermines their dignity and self respect).
11.6.2008 9:43pm
autolykos:

People who are under 29 today are just getting their first look at an economic crisis. Their enthusiasm for free markets is about to get tested when they find themselves unable to land the jobs they thought they'd be a lock for. I found it very frustrating a couple years back when 23-year-olds would stridently insist that real estate prices would always go up, the economy would always expand, etc. That is not the case, and you have to roll with the punches and occasionally adjust your views.


I think this argument works better the opposite way. The enthusiasm of the under-29 group for the democratic policies Obama espouses, i.e. more unions, more stringent environmental regulations, etc., will be tested when they're locked out of a slowing economy. It's easy to be in favor of a cap-and-trade system when you don't have to worry about finding a job.
11.6.2008 9:59pm
Harvard Student:
As a current harvard student it is clear that that vast majority of anger and indignation at the republican Party is due to social issues. I think that most students if pressed would a agree that the union card-check legislation does not make sense and generally believe in free trade (with the limits due to climate change) but they cannot support the anti-abortion, anti-gay party.
Even those who are personally socially conservative have a tolerance and diversity in the public sphere and retain their social views as a private matter and believe it should be kept that way.
11.6.2008 10:02pm
Constantin:
"anti-gay party."

What's Obama's stance on gay marriage again? And--to the loud chagrin of feminists who often claim that young women don't appreciate their struggles--children of baby boomers are much more likely to be pro-life than their parents. That's why I don't buy for a second that social issues were the deciding factor among younger voters.

I don't doubt that the young people who read this site aren't engaged on the issues. But they're the distinct minority. Dismiss my Jon Stewart mention all you want, but he's the news source for more people in the age group we're talking about than any other.
11.6.2008 10:14pm
Old Fart:
Gee, matts117, I think you just proved Zywicki and Mankiw's point.

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
11.6.2008 10:18pm
Justin L (mail):

What's Obama's stance on gay marriage again? And--to the loud chagrin of feminists who often claim that young women don't appreciate their struggles--children of baby boomers are much more likely to be pro-life than their parents. That's why I don't buy for a second that social issues were the deciding factor among younger voters.

I don't doubt that the young people who read this site aren't engaged on the issues. But they're the distinct minority. Dismiss my Jon Stewart mention all you want, but he's the news source for more people in the age group we're talking about than any other.


I don't think you can dispute that Republicans are viewed as "anti-gay" party despite the ostensibly same positions on gay marriage by the candidates. Republicans have spent the last 10 years increasingly beholden to evangelicals no matter what McCain says. Same as the way Hispanics turned on McCain enormously because of the Republican image. The specific candidates got subsumed by the parties on those issues. Tolerance of gays isn't a determinative issue, but it turns young people off.

And the problem with going after those that watch the Daily Show, is that you have to be already well-informed to enjoy it. Consistently surveys have shown that people who 'get their news' from Comedy Central are more well-informed than others. The Daily Show and Colbert Report are rather intelligent shows filled with in-jokes for those who pay attention. Young people don't have some specific claim to ignorance compared to the public at large like those here want to argue - in fact I'd say the opposite.

But really, if you want to just talk about how the younger generation are just uninformed rubes that will see the err of their ways in time, you'll be in trouble if Obama and the current government do well. This generation is paying attention and hates the Republican party.
11.6.2008 10:41pm
Kevin R (mail):
I'm 26 and voted for McCain (almost went for Barr -- I went for Browne and Badnarik in 2000 and 2004). Most of my friends and acquaintances voted for Obama because they are full-out liberals: excited about universal health care, fine with any other government intervention, and figure their own taxes won't go up so don't mind (maybe that last one is a bit snarky, sorry). Maybe that's partly because most of the people I know are from either New England or NoVa, but there it is. There are certainly elements of everything else that people have mentioned here too ("coolness" and such... I'm pretty sure my sister voted for Obama basically based on Jon Stewart -- she's smarter than I am, but as Ilya would put it, rationally ignorant about politics), and the "complete liberal" label doesn't apply to everyone... my wife, generally libertarian (if not as much as me), voted for Obama due to frustration with the Bush administration's "cronyism", politicizing the Justice dept., and so on in that vein, and she is pretty turned off by all Republicans at this point based on Bush.
11.6.2008 10:50pm
Kelly (mail):
The Daily Show is also remarkably honest. It doesn't distort reality to score cheap laughs. It satirizes the distortions, hypocrisy, and ridiculousness of others. All of which the Republican Party in general and the Bush administration in particular have provided in abundance.

The GOP's problem is not the Daily Show or SNL. Their problem is the material which the party has consistently given to those shows.
11.6.2008 10:52pm
Assistant Village Idiot (mail) (www):
I have four sons in their 20's. Smart boys, and I talk politics with them and with their friends. They have some remarkable insights and wisdom.

However, younger commenters listen very closely here. Even the best of them is influenced by the beliefs of the comedic culture - not just SNL, Stewart, et alia, but standups, the snide humor of entertainer interviews, movies, The Onion and other internet humor sites. I am not accusing anyone of taking orders from Colbert, but the content of the anti-Republican or anti-Bush comments here is evidence in and of itself of a willingness to believe the popular stereotype rather than an engagement in issues.

Not that that makes you any worse than any other generation - my own may have been the absolute bottom - but it pays to listen to yourself and see where your influences come from.
11.6.2008 11:03pm
Constantin:
Justin, exit polls are showing that black voters were responsible for the passage of the gay marriage bans in both Florida and California. They also went for Obama by a margin of 96-4. So I've no doubt that the GOP is "seen" as the anti-gay party, but that's making my point. The reality is different, and it's the culture (as exemplified by entities like The Daily Show and Ellen DeGeneres, who treated McCain and Obama 180 degrees different on gay marriage despite their identical positions) that explains the gap.

I'd also note that this Pew poll from three weeks ago disputes your claim about the relative level of information possessed by those imbibing in Jon Stewart's snark. It says that these viewers aren't nearly as politically informed as those watching Hannity and Colmes.

Kelly, your last post is a tautology if I've ever seen one. If you think The Daily Show plays it down the middle, or doesn't distort for cheap laughs and points, then you're pretty much the illustration of what I'm talking about. We'll see what Stewart does starting in about three months. My guess? More Palin jokes.
11.6.2008 11:17pm
jsl (mail):
Young voters may be more likely to be pro-life than Boomer parents, but they're also more likely to be pro-choice. The group you're talking about are my friends and classmates; there are quite a few who would refuse to have an abortion. There are very few who feel that it shouldn't be an option for the rest of them. And there are even fewer who feel that their gay classmates are somehow lesser, that they shouldn't be able to get married.

Like it or not, values of tolerance and respect for others' beliefs were instilled into (most of) us from a young age. If the GOP insists on trying to divide people along social lines, and continues to embrace financial policies that are indistinguishable from the Democrats, they're going to continue to lose the youth vote. We're not interested in that war; older generations can keep it, along with Vietnam.

And here's where the GOP should worry even more - the 18-29 vote that we're talking about? I'm at the high end of it. It's going to start spilling over into the 30-54 range soon. And while views on fiscal issues tend to change, views on social issues are a lot less fluid. If the GOP continues in its current direction (socially conservative, fiscally incoherent) I can't see it surviving another decade. If it reforms along more socially moderate lines, it could do well.
11.6.2008 11:24pm
Kelly (mail):

Kelly, your last post is a tautology if I've ever seen one. If you think The Daily Show plays it down the middle, or doesn't distort for cheap laughs and points, then you're pretty much the illustration of what I'm talking about. We'll see what Stewart does starting in about three months. My guess? More Palin jokes.

Did you watch the Daily Show in 2004? They were merciless to Kerry, because Kerry was a buffoon. They go after Clinton, becuase Clinton provides the material. And they have tried to go after Obama, but he's just not funny. I expect the show, and others like it, to go where the jokes are.

There's a reason that Fox News comedy show died after a few episodes. Recently, the Republicans have been providing a lot more to mock than the other side of the aisle. If that changes, I would hope the Daily Show responds according and I will be disappointed if it doesn't.
11.6.2008 11:32pm
Bama 1L:
autolykos, I was responding to Mankiw's categorization of young voters as economic libertarians. I am basically a social democrat. I find that younger Democrats are to my left socially but almost always to my right economically.

For that matter, it's very easy for people to believe that Obama's a socialist and therefore going to turn America into the Soviet Union if they don't remember what the Soviet Union really was.
11.6.2008 11:48pm
Brian K (mail):
Try getting it drilled into your head your entire life that "diversity" is the most important value in the entire world. Then imagine that you get a chance to pat yourself on the back for adhering to it and everyone else cool is doing it too. There's your answer.

i sure hope your some sort of republican campaign adviser. with you at the helm democrats are sure to lead for a long time. has the thought that maybe the younger group likes obama's policy never entered your head? i don't know if it would be possible to insult the youth vote even more.
11.6.2008 11:48pm
Nathan_M (mail):

I'd also note that this Pew poll from three weeks ago disputes your claim about the relative level of information possessed by those imbibing in Jon Stewart's snark. It says that these viewers aren't nearly as politically informed as those watching Hannity and Colmes.

But they're better informed than people watching The O'Reilly Factor, Lou Dobbs, MSNBC, or reading daily newspapers. Only 19% of Fox News viewers got all three questions Pew asked correct whereas 30% of Daily Show viewers (and 34% of Colbert viewers) did. Even the most knowledgeable audience (The New Yorker's) only had 48% get all three questions correct. None of those numbers is particularly impressive, but Daily Show viewers are much better informed than the national average.

If you want to criticize any group, the only people more ignorant than the audience of Katie Couric's newscast are National Enquirer readers, Access Hollywood viewers, and perhaps the occasional person Ms. Couric interviews.
11.6.2008 11:50pm
bbbeard (mail):
Here's part of what I emailed to Dr. Mankiw:

I think what we are seeing is the first post-Cold-War youth vote. 18-year-olds who voted last Tuesday were born after the Pershing II / SS-20 standoff, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, after Tiananmen Square. Our young folks are taught almost nothing about Communism, why we stood against the Soviet Union, or even why we call our alliance the "Free World".

So when the GOP goes ballistic about Obama's socialist programs and communist friends, young people by and large have no context in which to put this information. Instead of being informative, it's alienating. Even talking about Communism gives them the creeps. They've been trained to think that "communist" is an epithet on the order of the n-word for African-Americans.

What is the solution to that, from the GOP perspective? My thin hope is that education is the answer. A number of folks counsel us to shut up about the socialism/communism thing and concentrate on just promoting, say, liberty. I don't know.

BBB
11.6.2008 11:53pm
amativus (mail):
Boy I sure love hearing how much my vote was washed into my brain by Jon Stewart. Thanks, guys, that kind of perceptive thinking will really persuade me to consider the nuanced positions of the right wing, now that they've revealed their profound analytical capabilities.

I am a young voter who supported Obama. I am also a staunch supporter of free trade and most liberal economic principles. I am completely opposed to any protectionist measures which might be proposed. I have a good grasp on the ideas behind open markets, thank you very much, so you can all stop calling me a socialist Obama disciple. What affected my vote? Your insights about my generation's exposure to sustained economic success is an excellent one, but I wanted to add a few points of my own.

1. Sarah Palin. Her presence on the ticket couldn't be more offensive, not least of all because it felt like a blatant move to attract women as though we were all a big solid bloc who are automatically compelled to vote for a fellow uterus. There were quite a few qualified Republican women he could have chosen, but he just went for Sarah Palin and I can't understand why. Yes, I would like to see a woman in the White House someday. No, I don't want to see just any woman. She was utterly lacking.

2. As long as social conservatives refuse to believe that the next generation is going to be far more tolerant of homosexuals, they are going to continue to lose the youth vote. The attitude towards the environment doesn't help either - frankly it doesn't even matter if you believe in global warming or not, efforts to stop waste, inefficiency, and pollution should be a priority for everybody. It's not the fact that McCain wanted to push for drilling that offended me, it's that he couldn't expand his energy policy beyond a short-sighted, temporary strategy to think about America's long-term energy future. Sure it works for you guys, but my generation knows perfectly well that our current levels of oil consumption are unsustainable - not only ecologically but politically. This is the great threat hanging over our generation's head and the Republican Party's inability to capitalize on that cost them.

3. My vote was not just a negative "anti-Bush" vote. I was somewhat of a fan of McCain's before this election. I was disappointed with his actions during this campaign but I assumed that like all candidates before him, some of his rhetoric would be turned down were he actually elected. But his choice of Sarah Palin rendered any support I may have harbored into a moot point. As my mother would say, I wouldn't elect her dog catcher.

4. These are minor points in the scheme of the election but they stand out as the most offensive actions by the Republican party during this campaign (not that the Democrats didn't do offensive things during their campaigns, I'm just responding to a prompt about the Republican party)
- The absolutely outrageous "real America" comments! New York is only America when it gets attacked, right? After the smoke clears, our countrymen get shunted back into the category of latte-drinking limousine liberals, even as major GOP player Guiliani continues to don his "Mayor of 9/11" hat. Of course terms like "flyover states" are offensive, but the proper response is not to categorize the largest cities in the entire country as nothing but some "other America". I'm from California and yes, my values may differ from those of the Midwest, but we're the most populous state in the nation - if we aren't the "real America" then, pray tell, what IS the real America? If "real America" only applies to the least populous states in the country, I don't think "real America" means much of anything at all.
- The condescension about Obama's experience as a community organizer was offensive but also blatantly stupid. Does that include the millions of community organizers working in the evangelical community? It was belittling and it was petty and short-sighted.

My vote for Obama was a positive one, not just a reaction. For all the criticism that Obama is all inspiration and no policy, I think they're missing the picture. The president is not a ruler, he is a leader. One role of the president is to effectively channel, organize, coordinate the efforts and energies of the American people. Yes, this means making the market functional and competitive, using limited (!) regulation to make sure Americans have access to efficient institutions which allocate capital for innovative products. But this also means service - and I don't just mean the military. Obama's serious commitment to community service is a direct result of his time as a community organizer and I think it is his greatest strength. His campaign's success is due entirely to the fact that he moved millions from words into action: getting off the couch to give money or get out into the streets. The only thing that is going to get America through such a heartbreaking time is the same thing that let us survive the Depression, win World War II, and outlast the Cold War: the energy and innovation of the American people. If Obama has the skill needed to inspire Americans to service and action for the country, it will result in monumental achievement. It is not just lofty talk - it's lofty talk that works. I have tremendous respect for John McCain as an individual, but he is not an inspiring leader - not even to Republicans themselves. To dismiss Obama's ability to unify so many and compel them towards community involvement is to seriously undermine the real power fueling American success - not the American market, but American minds.
11.6.2008 11:53pm
amativus (mail):
Good lord, I didn't realize how long that was. Sorry about the essay, everybody.
11.6.2008 11:54pm
Brian K (mail):
Not that that makes you any worse than any other generation - my own may have been the absolute bottom - but it pays to listen to yourself and see where your influences come from.

the only blog i read daily is this one. and i voted for obama, largely because of what i've read on this blog. what does that say about my influences?
11.6.2008 11:57pm
MarkField (mail):

Justin, exit polls are showing that black voters were responsible for the passage of the gay marriage bans in both Florida and California.


The exit polls don't show any such thing. Every single person who formed part of the 52% majority was responsible for its passage. No group gets any more or any less blame.

It was not the black voters who took the lead in pushing Prop. 8, nor were they the ones funding it. If there's responsibility for that, it's the Mormon Church and the evangelicals who form the core of the Republican party.
11.7.2008 12:09am
Oren:
Young voters are much more concerned with social/cultural issues than economics ones. We don't own houses, have children, earn a lot of money, pay a lot of taxes or worry about retirement that is decades away. We do, on the other hand, enjoy the recent innovation in which the next generation is not expect to subordinate its desires for the sake of communal norms (quote lifted from Rabbi Steven Greenberg).

That's why Lawrence was always more important to us than Wickard -- it symbolized for the youth the absolute worst sort of tyranny that the state could get into -- the violation of citizen's personal lives for the sake of communal norms.
11.7.2008 12:25am
DiversityHire:
We'll see what Stewart does starting in about three months. My guess? More Palin jokes.

He's already having trouble trying to get his true-believer audience to understand the difference between politics and political humor. His first few attempts utterly baffled the in-studio audience.

And they have tried to go after Obama, but he's just not funny.

He is funny (e.g., "I spilled my grande soy latte on my shitzu...") and he's definitely capable of being made fun of. The Daily Show just hasn't figured-out how to bring its young viewership around to the realization that Obama, as a powerful political figure, must be mocked for the good of the country. They'll learn, or whomever does will become the next big thing.
11.7.2008 12:47am
Constantin:
Nice try, Mark Field. I can't blame you. I'd try to rationalize it, too.

And once again, I'm not claiming every single 21 year old who voted for Obama did so in ignorance of the issues. The thoughtful readers of this site would refute such a claim. I am saying that a majority of them did so, though, insofar as broad and general mass cultural persuasion isn't an "issue" per se. And I stand by that one, as I do my assertion about the role of "diversity" with younger voters. I am one of them, just done with my twenty years of schooling. I know what they teach you. So does Obama. He did a masterful job of tapping into it.
11.7.2008 12:51am
Oren:
Obama isn't funny because he hasn't been caught (at least not it a big way) in stupid contradictions, big lies or other government functions. As soon as his term -- and with it the lies and manipulation -- start, Colbert will be there to savage him.

Incidentally, did anyone catch Jon making light of Obama's "magic wand to lower gas prices" comments. More than most other commentors (and ironically, I suppose), he is very tuned in to incidents where politicians refuse to deal directly with complex issues.
11.7.2008 12:55am
DiversityHire:
I have to laugh out loud at MarkField: everyone is equally to blame except for the scary Mormons and evangelicals who are more-equally to blame.
11.7.2008 1:01am
Randy R. (mail):
Constatin: "The reality is different, and it's the culture (as exemplified by entities like The Daily Show and Ellen DeGeneres, who treated McCain and Obama 180 degrees different on gay marriage despite their identical positions) that explains the gap."

The Republican platform calls for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. The Democratic platform calls for no such thing. A majority of Democrats support the Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA), while almost all Republicans do not. Consistently, Dems score higher on the Human Rights Commission's annual score card than Repubs. The Republicans backed banning gay adoptions in Arkansas.

Please, you might think that you can fool a few people around here, but none of us are that stupid. The Republican party's official stance is anti-gay and committed to stopping the so-called Gay Agenda, while the Dem's is mostly supportive. Not as much as I would like, but much more than Republicans.

And that is one major reason why the youth vote is lost to the Republicans.
11.7.2008 1:01am
bbbeard (mail):
I'm sorry, but if any of you think that the Daily Show is anywhere in the vicinity of being unbiased, or that there's nothing about Obama one could make fun of, you are seriously deluded. Dude.

The Pew poll is good for coffee pot conversations, but not much else. I appreciate their effort, but estimating "what you know" about the news by three questions -- any three questions -- is laughable.

BBB
11.7.2008 1:02am
DiversityHire:
I think the discussion needs to make clear the difference between "diversity" and diversity, where the former refers to the crap spewed forth on university campuses, big corporate HR departments, etc. Universities are some of the least diverse "communities" in existence.
11.7.2008 1:05am
Randy R. (mail):
Another reason the youth vote is supports Dems: The environment.

on this issue, young people are actually far more optimistic than their elders. They actually believe that reducing pollution and supporting alternative energies will a) provide new jobs, and high paying ones at that, b) revitalize our balance of trade with other nations c) clean up the environment for *their* children, and d) slow or halt global climate change.

They see no downside in the matter, and they cannot fathom why anyone would oppose this. Yet the Republicans oppose it only for two reasons: It will hurt the oil and coal industry, which contributes quite a bit to Rep. coffers, and because they don't believe in global warming, and so think nothing should be done. Or that if anything is done, it will only harm the economy, and that there can't possibly be any upside.

Those arguements don't wash with people under 30. In fact, they don't wash with a lot of older people, either.

Oh, there is one other argument, and perhaps its a libertarian one: global climate change may be here, but repubs don't want to be *told* what to do to combat it. To that, young people just roll their eyes and say, "get over yourself."
11.7.2008 1:08am
Kelly (mail):

He's already having trouble trying to get his true-believer audience to understand the difference between politics and political humor. His first few attempts utterly baffled the in-studio audience.

The Daily Show has definitely attracted an increasing liberal audience over the years, and maybe Stewart will have problems getting some of them to laugh at Obama (personally, I thought some of his early attempts fell pretty flat). But that is more liberal youth being drawn to the show, not the show indoctrinating youth to become more liberal, which it what many above are asserting.

Incidentally, did anyone catch Jon making light of Obama's "magic wand to lower gas prices" comments.

I thought that was brilliant, as was the entire "BarackQuest" series on Obama's trip overseas.
11.7.2008 1:12am
DiversityHire:
Obama isn't funny because he hasn't been caught (at least not it a big way) in stupid contradictions, big lies or other government functions. As soon as his term -- and with it the lies and manipulation -- start, Colbert will be there to savage him.

Here's Jon trying.
11.7.2008 1:15am
Constantin:
Randy, the President-elect is on record opposing gay marriage because of his religious beliefs. How that attracted millions of youth voters concerned with gay rights is beyond me.

Unless they didn't know or didn't care.
11.7.2008 1:20am
David Warner:
nicestrategy,

"The party of hierarchy? The party of authority? The party of absolutism?

I think the GOP is doomed unless Obama fails."

Nice post, but you are aware that the overwhelming majority of authority figures you've likely enjoyed in your life to this point were unlikely to be Republicans, right?

Google "March through the Institutions".
11.7.2008 1:38am
David Warner:
The amazing thing to me is how many people under 30 are convinced that Obama is libertarian. I sincerely hope that they're not too violently introduced to the difference between liberal and left.
11.7.2008 1:39am
DiversityHire:
"The Revolution will not be televised. The revolution is live."

SW33t! LOL. TXT ME IN HM RM! WE'LL WTCH IT ON UTUBE!
11.7.2008 1:46am
Lior:
Constantin: the president-elect may be personally opposed to gay marriage, but he has never indicated that he would support legislation to ban it (constitutional, statutory, or regulatory).

Since the president does not even have the power to pass legislation (unlike his party in Congress), when judging presidential candidates on legislative issues their party's platform is rather more important than their personal opinions.

Both Obama and McCain may be personally opposed to gay marriage, but there is no way Obama would push for a law prohibiting the federal government from recognizing gay marriages. He would certainly not push for a federal constitutional amendment in that vein. McCain would (it's in his party's platform!)
11.7.2008 1:54am
MisterBigTop (mail):
OK, enough of this nonsense that no gays vote republican. Many of us do. (Far more than certain other groups I might add). Also, I'm in the under 30 camp. I am strongly anti-abortion and opposed to Roe. On gay issues, I'd say that yes, the overwhelmingly majority of young people support gay rights. The support of Roe is not near as strong.
11.7.2008 2:01am
MisterBigTop (mail):
"Both Obama and McCain may be personally opposed to gay marriage, but there is no way Obama would push for a law prohibiting the federal government from recognizing gay marriages. He would certainly not push for a federal constitutional amendment in that vein. McCain would (it's in his party's platform!)"

Nice try, but McCain came out against the FMA.
11.7.2008 2:02am
DiversityHire:
Randy R., nobody wants to live in a dirty, yucky world. But in a complex, dynamic system every change has unforeseen and unforeseeable consequences. When everybody gets together to implement a big-ass plan the accrual of costs and benefits is distorted from what would occur if knowledge and decisions were kept close to the origin of the information on which they are based.

When you decide that 20% of your driving will be fueled by ethanol, your success or failure has local repercussions. When the federal government decides to throw a few billion at corn ethanol, people die.

Big-ass plans cause big-ass problems and don't provide big-ass benefits. That's why everyone with a head on their shoulders should resist being told what "we all have to do."
11.7.2008 2:15am
astrangerwithcandy (mail):

Obama isn't funny because he hasn't been caught (at least not it a big way) in stupid contradictions, big lies or other government functions. As soon as his term -- and with it the lies and manipulation -- start, Colbert will be there to savage him.


see, but he was. several times. you just don't consider them big bc you like the guy. public finance, free trade, and rezko come to mind. oh and his rev wright "The person I saw yesterday was not the person that I met 20 years ago."


you can say the same thing about 90% of republican voters. "taxes are bad" or "abortion is bad" or "gays are bad" is about all it would boil down to.



ok, great. that has no relevance and does not mean my assertion is incorrect. prof zywicki was looking for the policy reasons young voters went overwhelmingly to obama. as a member of the under 30 cohort with, unfortunately for my young blood pressure, exactly 1 non-liberal friend, i am well aware of the feeling within the cohort that went with obama. it was not one of policy wonkishness. it was culture and the cool factor. as is implied in your attempt at a rebuttal, and as many people on this blog have said, politics often involves tribal identification. so it was for many of the young obama voters as i am sure it was for many of mccain's supporters.

as an aside...
voting based on culture is not some new or unaccepted argument. it is taken as an article of faith on the left that many republicans vote on cultural identification. obama himself said:


And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.


of course, the folks that voted for obama are clearly too analytically minded for any kind of simple minded voting based on cultural identification.
11.7.2008 2:21am
jsl (mail):
Constantin:

Read your links. Specifically: "While he does not favor laws that ban same-sex marriage."

I don't care if a politician is personally for or against gay marriage as being right or wrong; I care if they plan to write their personal belief into the laws my friends have to live with. The same view holds for abortion. That's why I have no problem supporting Obama (and Democrats in general) over Republicans.

I still think people have not engaged with the idea that there's no meaningful difference in economic policy between the parties. Republicans might claim to be for smaller government; their actions don't bear them out. If I can't believe there's a difference economically, I have to vote socially.
11.7.2008 2:24am
astrangerwithcandy (mail):
i will say about my liberal friends who do know something about economic policy and give it some thought...they are all about sustainability and its going to lead them to the left for a very long time. i think they will have a mid-life epiphany and there will be a sea change at that time, but i digress and am pulling speculations out of my rear.

the sustainability logic line that i have heard goes:

i am really concerned about the environment. i think businesses are polluting the environment and wasting our resources. i know that businesses exist to make a profit. if it is not profitable for businesses to go "green" they will not. we are in dire straits with regards to the environment. we can create laws to make businesses go green and avoid catastrophe. democrats are on board with increasing this type of regulation. the republicans want to leave the businesses to their own devices.


so, there is my obama voting youth policy concern that i think is most relevant.
11.7.2008 2:30am
LN (mail):
Most professional economists voted for Obama. But that's probably because they don't know as much about economics as I do. I might be the smartest person in the world.
11.7.2008 2:42am
astrangerwithcandy (mail):

Most professional economists voted for Obama.


uh oh, good one. most of the higher ups in the military voted for mccain. that is probably bc mccain would have been bad for the country. if only everyone was as smart as me to pick out these random relevant factoids.
11.7.2008 2:54am
DiversityHire:
Any word on how most professional plumbers voted?
11.7.2008 3:53am
Jaap:
Imagine for a minute that the Republican party were pushing old-fashioned Jim Crow racial segregation, ceteris paribus. Would you vote for it just because the Republicans sorta kinda talk about tax reform and social security reform sometimes? How would you explain it to your kids?

I would like to believe that we have reached a point where, to young voters, anything short of enthusiastic support for gay rights is as damning for a candidate as unreconstructed segregationism.

Now I understand that Obama's official line on gay marriage is indistinguishable from McCain's, but McCain remains a Republican, and the Republicans' credibility on gay issues remains next to zilch. I even know that strictly speaking Palin's record on gay issues is not that bad, but she is (or at any rate was perceived as, which matters) an evangelical, and evangelicals' credibility on gay issues remains next to zilch.

The culture war is still on, and in relatively prosperous times, it dominates politics. There is little doubt that the majority of young people's cultural politics align much more closely with the Democrats. Add to that the association of the Republicans with an unpopular war and comparatively minor differences on economic policy that run toward the arcane and incomprehensible, and you get the youth vote.

As for card check, which several people referred to: I agree that it could prove extremely important and extremely harmful, but I've been having trouble explaining what it even is to a number of otherwise very well informed people, and I can't imagine more than a tiny minority, whether old or young, has any clue what it is.
11.7.2008 5:07am
Kevin P. (mail):
This is a very interesting and thoughtful set of comments. Kudos to all the posters for keeping it civil and insightful.
11.7.2008 5:22am
Kevin P. (mail):
Incidentally, how do young people feel about the culture war issue of gun control? Especially since Barack Obama seems inclined to bring it up again? How does this play out?

From the change.gov web site:

[Obama and Biden] also support making the expired federal Assault Weapons Ban permanent
11.7.2008 6:39am
Toby:
There is a strong meme that (not, alas, a younger voter) see of sustainability and new markets, and new energy—sort of a more hopeful version of Friedman’s thesis. One problem is that today’s energy markets are managed by one of the most anti-innovation, anti-competition forces known: the Public Utility Commission (PUC). These are designed to minimize costs within the status quo, three iron constraints: populist slogans, cost recovery, and natural monopoly.

Market design determines how innovative a market can be. Energy markets have been designed to by PUCs and legislatures. The market rules result in lack of diversity, technology selection by lobbying, and one-size-fits all markets. Current market design is the last thing that someone who wants new energy, whether you call it E-tech, or clean-tech, or whatever, should want. The sort of destructive innovation and entrepreneurial possibility that characterizes information technology cannot be applied to energy today, the model is more similar to the old phone company, wherein you had to get permission from ATT to sell a modem.

The Bush Department of Energy actually wrestled mightily to create the market conditions to enable new energy, characterized by transacted energy, distributed generation, and informational interoperability. In this area, they formed a bi-partisan consensus with the Democratic congress, as seen in the Energy Policy Act of 2005, and the Energy Information and Security Policy Act of 2007. Each of these acts had as their centerpieces the authorization of smart grid technologies to enable interoperability and two-way transactions. Developing these approaches is hard work, and requires consensus, and takes a while. Think of it as analogous to the years of development of the internet before it became something that could be printed in a normal newspaper without explanation.

The tragedy of the Bush administration was its inability and unwillingness to explain anything it did, to marshal public opinion. This means the really exciting enabling of new energy markets, is off the radar. The new markets, if they arrive, are what will enable the high-paying clean-tech new economy mentioned by several posters above.

This incoherence and obscurity may continue to have new costs. We heard yesterday that Waxman may be challenging Dingell for the House Commerce and Energy Committee. This may well turn Energy Policy in the US back toward centralized decision making and government selection of winners. If so, it will greatly reduce the possibility of achieving the new economy the young posters hope for.
11.7.2008 7:03am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Among other things, "sustainability" is like Obama. You have no idea what it really means but you project whatever it is you like.

The problem with big-ass plans causing big-ass problems is that the government then has to intervene even more egregiously to address--usually not at all effectively--the big-ass problem.
Which brings up the possibility that big-ass problems are a feature, not a bug.
11.7.2008 7:45am
DiversityHire:
Good post, Toby. But you had to mention Waxman, now I'm depressed.
11.7.2008 8:03am
DiversityHire:
Which brings up the possibility that big-ass problems are a feature, not a bug.

That's right, without that feature the soft fascism of well-intention wouldn't be sustainable.
11.7.2008 8:14am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Oh, the young voters are going to love this.
They may finally decide that being young and ignorant of everything that ever happened and the lessons therefrom isn't the same as being smarter than everybody else in the world whoever lived, too.
Change.gov, discussing community service says "require".
I will mourn later.
Right now, I'm gloating.
11.7.2008 10:46am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Oh, yeah.
Oren. Taking you at your word. You were going to oppose this.
Start right in.
11.7.2008 10:47am
Randy R. (mail):
"Nice try, but McCain came out against the FMA."

And the only reason McCain was against the FMA is because he believes that the states should be able to ban gay marriage on their own. However, if they start allowing gay marriage, then he would be in favor of it.

That's hardly a ringing endorsement of gay marriage by McCain.

One thing that DOES gladden my heart, though, is the lengths the apologists are going to portray the Rebpulican party as not so hard-ass on gays. I'm not sure why -- is it because you truly think that gays deserve all the same rights and our proper place in society, and you disagree with the republican party? Or are you trying to downplay their adversity to gays in an attempt to fool people into thinking the republican party is more gay friendly than it is? Have you come to the conclusion that gay bashing does not help, but actually hurts the republican party?

In other words, why all the gyrations?

(And I do understand why some gay people vote Republican. I was once a member of Log Cabin Repubs).
11.7.2008 11:14am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Randy.
You just don't get it.
Gays--or pick some other accredited victim group--are simply not as important to the rest of us as you'd like to think.
You're not worth spending any time at all trying to figure out how to shaft.
11.7.2008 11:31am
MarkField (mail):

I have to laugh out loud at MarkField: everyone is equally to blame except for the scary Mormons and evangelicals who are more-equally to blame.


While I'm happy to liven up your day, I'm even happier that you don't have an actual counter-argument.
11.7.2008 12:00pm
DiversityHire:
Thanks, MarkField. It's not my counter argument, but its pretty good.
11.7.2008 12:46pm
David Warner:
Randy R.,

"In other words, why all the gyrations?"

Attempted appeasement, likely to produce the predictable results.

Toby,

"The tragedy of the Bush administration was its inability and unwillingness to explain anything it did"

So you conjecture that anyone was listening when it did?
11.7.2008 12:47pm
MarkField (mail):

It's not my counter argument, but its pretty good.


Still got nothing, huh? Let me know when you come up with one.
11.7.2008 1:49pm
grackle (mail):
An interesting thread. I would note that the (guess?) 60 odd percent of commenters who could be summarized as saying the young (a)voted on surface issues, or (b) don't have the abundance of worldly experience to see the truths I see, probably aren't in any position to answer the question on which the post was based, Mankiw's straightforward question, "So what does the Republican Party need to do to get the youth vote back?"

I would emphasize something some of the self-identified young commenters allude to above, i.e. Obama's consistent dignity in the face of a lot of irrelevant vitriol from the McCain campaign - I realize that some of the primary authors on this site have been enthusiastic participants in the attempts over the past months to portray Obama as something-or-other based on putative associations, fear-of-otherness, fear-of-the-unknown and other cheerfully slanted attempts to smear his character. These characterizations seem to have constituted a great proportion of the McCain campaign, with the substance of any actual ideas McCain might have had for leading the country having been omitted as a result. In the face of endless provocations,Obama did not bite, nor did he respond in kind - and there was ample opportunity, given McCain's history, for him to do so.
Obama maintained a higher level, consistently bringing the subject of his campaign back to the issues, to the needs of the country, rejecting the low level tit for tat that could have characterized the race. The result is pretty clear and I would suggest the Republicans would do well by rejecting such despicable Rove-style game plans in the future. After all, if your ideas have substance they can only sell themselves if you promote them in preference to sleazy innuendos.
11.7.2008 1:54pm
Constantin:
Grackle, you have to be kidding, right? The first time McCain brought up Ayers, Obama was talking about Keating before the sun went down.

MarkField, how's this: A majority of white voters voted against Prop 8 in California. A majority of black voters voted for it. Why is this so hard for you to accept?
11.7.2008 2:17pm
DiversityHire:
OK, Markfield, you made me laugh so I owe you.

Constantin:
(a) polls show group-a is responsible for passage of prop 8* in California

MarkField Sez:
(b) the polls do not show (a)
(b) all the voters who voted for prop 8 are equally responsible, thus not (a)
(c) no group gets any more or less blame than any other
(d) group-b and group-c are to blame

but (d) means not (c), right?

I think that's a funny argument, because it reminds me of the Pigs in Animal Farm: everyone is equally to blame for the passage of prop 8, but the mormons and evangelicals are more-equally to blame.

I think that Constantin is correct, that that the poll data indicates that had blacks not shown-up in such large numbers in California, proposition 8 would have failed. I think you're right, too, everyone (i.e., each individual) who voted for proposition 8 shares in the shame of it equally. And I agree that the Republicans do weigh the opinions of evangelical christians too heavily.

But your analysis doesn't hold if we shift from individual to collective responsibility. Constantin did this by looking at grouping by race, you did it by looking at groupings by religious belief. Republican and Democrat parties as large, stiched-together coalitions of interest-groups are incapable of consistency once they're empowered, i.e. once their decisions start to matter. This is an instance of one important democratic interest group (blacks) hammering another (equity genderists/nice people who don't want everyone else to squeeze into some narrow-minded interpretation of who's OK to marry). So the answer to the question at the start of the thread boils down to: wait; let the frayed seams on one side mend while the seams fray on the other side. Then lather, rinse, repeat.

~

Just before the election, there was a large group of "Yes on 8" protestors down the street from my house (actually in the street, I nearly ran into a couple). I was annoyed—I hate protests, especially when I can hear them, they're like weed blowers—and appalled that people who, considered as a group, were so recently subject to oppression (i.e., blacks and LDS) would be publicly supporting oppression of another minority's right to engage in the ceremonial right of marriage to another of their choosing. It wasn't so long ago that miscegenation was illegal, that mormons were getting killed for their religious &matrimonial beliefs.

* and something something in someplace called "Florida", whereever &whatever that is
11.7.2008 3:30pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
It is certainly possible the yoots who voted for Obama considered themselves, while still young, too old to be drafted into the required universal service.
So, good for them.
Feel good by getting something out of somebody else.

Now that it's "required", we can cue the wide-eyed, innocently bewildered (tm) "I don't see what's wrong with helping people." from those who sneered at the possibility it would be required.
11.7.2008 3:35pm
American Psikhushka (mail):
What do you find mildy terrifying about the Libertarian party?

No response - I guess we're so scary that one can't even engage in anonymous electronic conversation with us. I guess the media tactic of nearly always using a variation of the word "extremism" in close proximity to any mention of libertarianism is working.
11.7.2008 3:36pm
DiversityHire:
And not to keep blathering on, MarkField, but the groupings that people use to evaluate their policy choices are often really static and opaque. For instance, a lot of people want to help poor people, but they want to tax and oppress smokers (also to "help" them). Yet, the most recalcitrant smokers are typically poor people; meaning a tax increase on tobacco not only impacts poor people, but disproportionately impacts the smokers whose demand curve is least elastic. "We" and "they" depend on context. With Obama and Prop. 8 parts of the "we" that got the former elected are the same as the "they" that got prop. 8 passed and conversely.
11.7.2008 3:48pm
MarkField (mail):

MarkField, how's this: A majority of white voters voted against Prop 8 in California. A majority of black voters voted for it. Why is this so hard for you to accept?


When you spend your last $100, which particular dollar do you blame for being broke?


But your analysis doesn't hold if we shift from individual to collective responsibility. Constantin did this by looking at grouping by race, you did it by looking at groupings by religious belief.


No, I did not blame Mormons or anyone else for their religious beliefs. I limited my criticism to those who committed certain acts.

What I did was to sort people into 2 groups based on their actions. Group 1 consists of those who simply voted for Prop. 8. Everyone in Group 1 is equally to blame for their vote.

Group 2 consists of those who, in addition to voting for Prop. 8, also financed it, campaigned for it, etc. Everyone in Group 2 deserves more moral blame than those who are in Group 1 alone because they committed additional wrongs. Blame within Group 2 is proportional to the amount of harm any individual or entity did.
11.7.2008 4:02pm
DiversityHire:
I didn't say you blamed them for their religious beliefs. I said that that is how you grouped them. Now I see that you're saying that their efforts to get voters to the polls makes them more culpable than other arbitrary groupings. I'll accept that. What I'm saying is: high turn-out among (one group of) Obama supporters may have had the additional consequence of passing proposition 8 (which another group of Obama supporters passionately opposes). That it wasn't the intent makes it all the more interesting because it exposes a potential fray in the Democratic quilt. And in this case, there's no group to blame because they weren't voting as a previously-defined/organized block on that particular issue.
11.7.2008 4:25pm
MarkField (mail):

What I'm saying is: high turn-out among (one group of) Obama supporters may have had the additional consequence of passing proposition 8 (which another group of Obama supporters passionately opposes).


Agreed, though as I said above, it doesn't make much sense to say that this particular group "caused" the passage.


That it wasn't the intent makes it all the more interesting because it exposes a potential fray in the Democratic quilt.


Agreed again. My guess, though, is that it'll get resolved with some work on our side.
11.7.2008 4:50pm
Brian K (mail):
as a member of the under 30 cohort with, unfortunately for my young blood pressure, exactly 1 non-liberal friend, i am well aware of the feeling within the cohort that went with obama. it was not one of policy wonkishness. it was culture and the cool factor.

i disagree. your posts show a fair amount of bias so i don't think you are accurately characterizing liberals. it is obvious you are a conservative and it is obvious that you don't understand (either purposely or accidentally) liberals arguments and beliefs.

i too am under thirty and i can say is that your beliefs regarding the other side are a load of crap and biased to support your personal beliefs. (i.e. "I vote based on principle and intelligence and good logic and the other guys vote because it is cool.") take your partisan blinders off for a change, you might learn something.
11.7.2008 7:05pm
Oren:

Also, I'm in the under 30 camp. I am strongly anti-abortion and opposed to Roe.

So you are going to undo precedent that prevent the government from criminalization your private sexual conduct? If a republican gets elected and Roe and it's progeny (cough, Lawrence) get overturned, the libertine wing of the country will step in to prevent you from being thrown in jail but you certainly won't deserve it.
11.8.2008 11:21am
David Warner:
Oren,

Offing the guy in the ultrasound is a lost cause in an era of ever expanding rights. It's only a matter of time, and it ultimately has little to do with religious boogeymen.
11.8.2008 1:29pm
Chester White (mail):

What the Republican Party needs to do to get the young back is let them marinate in, and suffer from, the policies that Obama is going to jam down their throats for 4 years.

18% mortgages, 21.5% interest rates, higher taxes, "mandatory volunteerism," and few new jobs being created will educate even a bunch of idiot 20-year-olds right quick.
11.9.2008 10:00am
David Warner:
Chester White,

"18% mortgages, 21.5% interest rates, higher taxes, "mandatory volunteerism," and few new jobs being created will educate even a bunch of idiot 20-year-olds right quick."

Hasn't your party already hit its idiot quota? Why not take a shot at the 25-year-old non-idiots?
11.9.2008 8:02pm
elcaminoabby:
American Psikhushka (and others who responded to my original post)-

Sorry for not responding sooner. I may be young, but I am in the awkward position of being employed and having demands on my time that distract me from 24-7 blogging.

As for my comments on the Libertarian party: I don't find Libertarians frightening in any way. However, as a "fringe" party, the party tends to attract extremists (whose views do not really align with those of the Libertarian Party, but are more contrarian anti-establishment) and personalities whose single-minded conviction can be at odds with the practicality of, say, running a government.

That's the last I'll say disparagingly of the Libertarian Party. I did write that it is only mildly terrifying. I'm a fan of the idea behind them and support the effort to become a major party in the U.S.
11.11.2008 11:32pm