Posted by: mutantpoodle | November 6, 2008

The youth vote multiplier?

With all the talk about the youth vote this year (Did it come out? Was it decisive? – to which the answer is yes, and quite possibly) I wonder if the larger story isn’t the youth vote, but the youth lobby.

This morning’s LA Times ran a series of voter vignettes from around the country. First, North Miami:

Sitting at the lunch counter was Sandy Liebowitz, who voted for Obama at the urging of his son and business partner, Michael. He still had reservations about the Democrat’s ties to proponents of anti-Israeli rhetoric like Palestinian scholar Rashid Khalidi.

“I was concerned about that,” said Liebowitz, 58, enjoying a pastrami on rye.

“There’s too many other people involved who will steer Obama away from that,” said Michael Liebowitz, 29.

Next, Cincinnati, Ohio:

Around the corner in the nearly empty dining room, Kathy Horner, 58, an unemployed secretary, was eating a burger with her daughters. A strong opponent of abortion, she voted for Obama, a last-minute decision. “It was hard for me to fill out his name,” she said.

Elizabeth Horner, 19, chimed in: “She walked out of the polling booth and said, ‘Now, I’m going to hell.’ “

Now, it’s easy to take anecdotes too far. But considering that there was an entire campaign asking young voters to talk to their parents (see above and also, as I’ve mentioned before, The Great Schlep, which claimed 24,000 schleppers as of three days ago), and considering the immense youthful energy of the Obama campaign generally, I wonder if the youth vote was multiplied in any way by the persistent (and, I’m sure, annoying) lobbying of parents and grandparents by their youngers.

Assume the youth vote was 22.5 million, and assume, conservatively, that each 10 young voters flipped one parent or grandparent who otherwise would have voted for McCain. Obama’s total goes down by 2.25 million, and McCain’s goes up by the same amount, and now the margin isn’t 7.6 million votes; it’s 3.1 million, and Obama’s sitting at 50.6%, a mere 2.5% advantage.

If there were two flips for each 10 young voters, the math gets scary. Obama would have faced a 1.4 million vote deficit, and McCain gets 49.9% of the vote – 1.1% more than Obama’s 48.8%, and right now we’re talking about Sarah Palin moving into the Naval Observatory.

Now, a caveat. This assumes that the “flipped” voters would have voted for McCain (instead of a third party or not voting) absent youth lobbying; and I have no idea whether my base assumptions here make sense. (Is it reasonable to think that 10 young voters changed one older voter? I don’t know.)

But if there’s going to be some post-election data crunching, this is an area I think would be ripe for some study. Any takers?


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