Sunday, January 06, 2008

Obama and the Mil-Gen vote

Noted but worth emphasizing:

Not only did Clinton lose to Barack Obama by an almost six to one margin among Millennial Generation (those under 25) caucus attendees, but also her weakness in this age group was the key to her overall loss among women. While Hillary carried the over 45 female vote 36%-24%, Obama won women under 45 by a 50%-21% margin and the surprisingly strong turnout among young caucus goers turned that margin into an overall defeat among the female constituency Hillary was counting on the most. Had she and her team only read their history, they wouldn't have been surprised by this outcome.

Plenty more in a variety of tangents at the link, but the youth vote phenomenon belonging to Barack is what I'll pause on with some anecdotal evidence.

I have a nephew who is a freshman at Texas A&M. (I probably don't need to mention that A&M is the most politically conservative public university in the state, if not the nation, do I?) He comes from an Aggie legacy on his mother's side; his father, my younger brother, is a staunch Republican who works for a defense contractor and lives in a suburb of Fort Worth. My nephew spent the past summer interning with my older brother the lawyer (and Republican) here in Houston. When I asked him over the holidays who he planned to cast his first presidential vote for, he said "Obama". The only 'why' we got into was that he had attended an Obama function while he was here and was impressed. Suffice it to say I was surprised (not as much as the rest of the people at the table, though).

And I spent some time over lunch this past week with a prominent Af-Am Democratic activist, also an attorney with a long history of civil rights advocacy. In short he doesn't think the country is ready for a black president, and doesn't think Obama is the right man for the job in any event (not progressive enough -- he, like me, supports Edwards).

Maybe we just both discount Obama's obvious personal appeal; the feature that also obviously resonates with younger voters. The US electorate tends to favor charismatic presidential candidates over those with experience -- exhibits A, B, and C: JFK over Nixon, Reagan over GHW Bush, and even Huckabee over the rest of the GOP field.

But the real open question is: will this youth surge sustain itself, carrying Obama to the nomination and the White House? History is strongly against it, but perhaps a variance to the historical trend is happening even as we blog.

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