Counting on Youth Could Be Rookie Mistake for Obama

'04 election might have seen surge Dems are counting on; math blurs from there
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted May 29, 2008 3:19 PM CDT
A group of young supports of Barack Obama try to fire up the crowd before he arrives for a campaign speech Wednesday morning May 21, 2008, in Tampa, Fla.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Conventional wisdom has it that young people energized by Barack Obama will sweep him to victory in November. But not so fast, Paul Maslin writes on Salon. It’s possible the big youth surge already happened in 2004, when turnout among 18-to-24-year-olds jumped from 2000’s dismal 32.4% to 41.9%—even as overall turnout declined.

John Kerry carried the youth vote by 9%, but it still made up just a tiny portion of his support. Howard Dean's youth movement backfired when older Iowans decided they didn’t trust the Deaniacs. But if Obama can improve Kerry’s margin to, say, 15%, and turnout jumps significantly, the youth vote could add 2% to Obama’s national total, which “ain’t bubkes.”