Jewish World Review April 13, 2012/ 21 Nissan, 5772
In battle for young voters, Romney should play it uncool
By Jonah Goldberg
President Obama's re-election largely hinges on his ability to play young voters for suckers -- again -- and whether
In 2008, Obama won the youth vote by better than a 2-1 margin, 66 percent to 32 percent. Even more impressive, he actually expanded the share of young voters going to the polls by some 3 million. Those extra voters helped tip several swing states.
Obama owed his success to being a charming political unknown onto whom young people could project their hopes. His rhetoric was a hipsterized version of
His primary opponents were mostly a herd of political dinosaurs who'd been around since before the invention of not just the Internet, but cable TV.
Obama was different. He had that cool name. He was black. He'd never done much that was important, save give some fun speeches, but that was OK; neither had most college students, and that didn't keep them from being special either. More important, they believed his promises, they liked his style, they bought his easy answers and flattering pandering.
Four years later, Obama's in trouble, which is why he's visiting college campuses more often than a
All of the exciting reasons to vote for Obama are gone. Even his accomplishments don't excite people, never mind his failures. His "Yes, we can" rhetoric is gone because it sounds stupid after four years of "No, we didn't." Now we get cynicism and fear-mongering. His attacks on the Republicans are tawdry and desperate. He even admits the "Buffett Rule" is a gimmick. Other issues like green energy are passé now, even though gas prices continue to soar. (A troubling sign for Obama: Only a third of hybrid car owners are interested in ever getting another after they get rid of the one they have.)
Obama's approval rating among 18- to 29-year-olds hovers around 50 percent (after almost a year of bad press for the
In short, conditions are not ripe for an Obama youth tsunami.
The trick for Romney isn't to pander to young voters. He'll never beat Obama and the Democrats at that game. But Romney can turn things to his advantage. He needs to contrast himself with Obama in ways that highlight Obama's desperate need to seem cool to compensate for his failures. Nothing turns off young people more than pretending to be "down with the youth" as it were.
Indeed, Romney should take some lessons from
But what Romney can learn from the 76-year-old Paul is the appeal of authentic nerd chic. It's cool to be really into your issues and interests. And one of the things that distinguishes the millennial generation is an understanding that nerds --
After four years of dashed expectations, a studiously uncool Romney might offer a welcome contrast to Obama's audacity of hype.
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