In 2007, the Obama campaign knew they couldn’t win with existing voters. The momentum for the Democratic nomination was with Hillary Clinton. In order to win, his campaign had to generate new voters.
He was successful. By 2008, he recruited 15 million new voters to cast ballots for him. Famously reaching out to younger voters and independents, Obama maintained a 38 point lead over Senator John McCain, with new voters.
The 2012 election is also likely to hinge on new voters.
It’s not a given that young Americans will automatically support Obama. A recent Harvard Institute of Politics Poll found that at this time only 38% of young voters would vote to re-elect the President. Times are tough for Millenials. According to the New York Times:
Among the members of the class of 2010, just 56 percent had held at least one job by this spring, when the survey was conducted. That compares with 90 percent of graduates from the classes of 2006 and 2007. (Some have gone for further education or opted out of the labor force, while many are still pounding the pavement.)
Times are so tough for new grads that the majority of Millenials are moving back home with their parents after graduating from college:
A study conducted by Twentysomething Inc., a consultant firm specializing in young adults, reports that 85 percent of this year’s graduating class will be forced to move back home. Meanwhile, 2011 graduates also face historic amounts of student loan debt — or an average of $27,200 for graduates that borrowed money in order to finish school.
Given these statistics and an economy that’s threatening to enter a double-dip recession, could we be facing a similar situation to 1980 when Ronald Reagan beat Jimmy Carter in a landside?
One group is working on a change in the White House. Smart Girl Politics, an grassroots organization of more than 40,000 conservative women, recently launched a national voter registration drive. In a recent email, Stacy Mott, founder of SGP, wrote:
Year after year, polls have shown that Conservatives outnumber Liberals almost two-to-one, so why is the number of those actually registered to vote so much closer? Because Liberals do a great job at getting their boots on the ground and registering voters. Let’s face it, they elected the Organizer-in-Chief by doing just that. It is time that Conservatives get on the ground and begin to build new voter rolls, an essential factor in securing electoral gains.
Smart Girl Politics Action is ready to take action and we are starting TODAY. SGPAction is proud to announce our new National Voter Registration Training and Campaign Program. Over the next few months, we will be training hundreds of conservatives how to succeed at registering new voters and we need your help.
Those efforts are going to be key in certain states. Between population shifts and the President’s approval rating, Obama’s re-election efforts won’t be as easy as the 2008 election:
Recent voter registration data show that Democrats have lost ground in key states that Obama carried in 2008, an early warning siren for the president’s re-election campaign. While Republican numbers have also dipped in some states, the drop in the Democrats’ ranks highlights the importance of the Obama campaign’s volunteer base and the challenge they could have of registering new voters.
According to the Associated Press, Obama has lost ground in Pennsylvania, Iowa, Florida and North Carolina, which are all states that he carried in 2008. While he has already launched his own voter registration drive through Organizing for America, those efforts didn’t help in the 2010 mid-terms when the economy was on the ballot.
Given low voter enthusiasm for either political party right now, a 2012 victory will likely hinge on which side is better at registering new voters. That makes the Smart Girl Politics national voter drive all the more important.
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