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Blunting the Democrats’ “Youth Advantage”

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The recent Democratic winning streak in presidential elections connects directly to the “youth advantage” enjoyed by Democratic candidates: the Democratic nominee has been younger than the GOP nominee in five of the last six of presidential contests, and the younger candidate each time won the popular vote.

The only GOP victory came in 2004 when John Kerry was three years older than his one-time Yale classmate, George W. Bush. Democrats have benefited consistently from an edge among younger voters: in 2012 Barack Obama beat Mitt Romney with those between ages 18 and 29 by an almost two-to-one margin, while Romney prevailed among the 81% who were 30 and above.

In 2016, however, all prominent Republican candidates are younger than Hillary Clinton who’ll be 69 by Election Day. If the GOP nominates a youthful conservative leader like Rubio, Walker, Cruz or Paul, Republicans could blunt a Democratic edge that’s helped them sweep recent presidential contests.

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  1. Steve  •  May 26, 2015 at 3:08 pm

    To take that a step further if the ticket was Kasich and Rubio they would take the two most important states for Republicans to win. I can’t see that ticket loosing – the only question is who would be P and who would be the VP. I think Rubio is more electable in a youth/beauty contest but Kasich has more direct experience necessary to be president. We could keep the white house for 16 years!!!!

    • Don  •  Jun 12, 2015 at 12:46 pm

      I wholeheartedly agree with Steve. Kasich-Rubio in ’16 would be hard for the dems to beat.

  2. Sean Flynn  •  Jun 4, 2015 at 7:27 am

    Youth voters overwhelming voted for McGovern in 1972 and Carter in 1980 and that didn’t appear to matter too much at all. Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan won in landslides.

    The problem the GOP faces is not just the youth vote. Its the American vote. In 5 of the last 6 presidential elections the popular vote has for the Democratic candidate. Obama won two elections by landslide margins.

    If I told you in 2001 that the US would elect a black man with a Moslem-sounding name to two large victories as president in 2008 and 2012 you’d think I was a nut.

    The electoral college, so derided as an unjust, undemocratic antique by Democrats in the aftermath of Bush’s 2000 victory over Al Gore, has become a bulwark of support for the Democrats. Of the 270 electoral votes needed to win, the Democrats start out each election season with about 250 votes locked in. Those are mainly in the northeast/north and west coast (the highly-populated states).

    Republican candidates that might be appealing to those largely middle-class, largely-educated, largely higher-income can’t win in the Republican primary, so they are doomed come election day.

    For example, the Mitt Romney who campaigned for governor of Massachusetts in 2003 and left office with high approval ratings would have been a great candidate for president in 2012, but instead he had to transform himself into a far right wing candidate to win the Republican nomination. in the process, he handed over the election to Obama in the general election. Let’s be honest. It wasn’t even close.

    For the same reason, people like John Kasich and Chris Christie and even George Pataki, who would perform quite well in northeastern states don’t have a chance in hell of getting the GOP nomination.

    The GOP, which once was able to win heavy-hitting electoral states like California, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, etc (Nixon, Reagan, GHW Bush) now doesn’t have a chance in those states and doesn’t really try.

    Win California, and you’re 20% of the way to White House. But the state that produced Ronald Reagan and Pete Wilson will probably never vote for a GOP presidential candidate ever again. Hell, Bush-McCain-Romney never even bothered campaigning there in recent years.

    The Democrats, on the other side, are making inroads into the South (the heartland of the GOP), winning states like Florida, Virginia, North Carolina. (Note: This applies to presidential election years only, as the Dems perform simply awful in non-presidential elections in the South, when voter turnout declines.)

    In the 1990s, George Allen campaigned for governor and senator (and won) in Virginia using the Confederate flag as his identity. Imagine anyone doing THAT in Virginia today! And North Carolina simply isn’t a Jesse Helms kind of state anymore.

    States that were formerly automatic GOP wins, like New Hampshire, Maine, Colorado, etc are now dependably Democratic wins. Secular republican voters have been turned off by the GOP’s increasing religious bent and have switched sides.

    States the GOP used to be competitive in, like Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, etc are being won by the Democrats by wider margins each election cycle.

    Lastly, home state advantage is meaningless nowadays. Al Gore of Tennesse learned that in 2000. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts learned that in 2012. Marco Rubio, should he win the GOP nomination, will learn that in 2016. Florida’s demographics are not friendly towards the GOP anymore.

    Frankly, I don’t see Hillary losing in 2016 for reasons that have nothing to do with Hillary. And unless there’s some kind of absolute catastrophe (i.e. economic, more than foreign policy) or personal health issue (she’ll be 73 in 2020) she’s probably a shoo-in for reelection.

  3. Don  •  Jun 12, 2015 at 1:13 pm

    Sean, I understand the built-in electoral advantage the dems have, but this will be our last chance to win the Presidency for generations, if ever again. Hillary promises to increase immigration and grow their base. That is one promise I believe..I think, with a great team and campaign, we can win. I live in swing State Florida and I will volunteer to help in any way I can as I believe with the right ticket the Republicans can win. We don’t have to accept the left’s agenda and we wouldn’t win if we did. Imho

  4. N.S.  •  Jun 19, 2015 at 12:04 pm

    Michael’s 3 favorites candidates – Bush, Rubio & Walker – may be more youthful but all have fatal flaws that will cause them to fall short of even getting the nomination. The name “Bush” has too much past baggage with a lot of voters, and Jeb’s identification with Common Core and his refusal to sign Norquist’s no-tax pledge will hurt him with the tea-party base.
    Rubio’s big advantage is his supposed ability to attract Hispanic voters, but some polling data done a few years ago when he was mentioned as a VP candidate showed no advantage. Most Hispanic Americans are not Cubans, and there is significant awareness and resentment among them over the classification of Cuban refugees as “political” when most Cubans flee to U.S. for the same economic reasons that cause non-Cuban Hispanics to come to U.S. In fact, Rubio’s parents fled the Batista regime in 1956, but Rubio has constantly created the impression that Castro was the cause of their departure, so don’t be surprised if Hispanic – Americans don’t identify with him.
    Scott Walker has an “outsider” image & Koch Bros. funds that give him staying power through the primaries; his failure to complete his last year of college might actually be an asset among some primary voters; the reason he left Marquette — under threat of expulsion for trying to rig a student body election — is probably something he can avoid answering specifically. His problem is that he can’t answers enough questions. He goes to a foreign policy forum in London and doesn’t answer any questions on the subject! He did make an idiotic comparison of ISIS terrorists to the AFL-CIO unions who opposed him in Wisconsin. When asked if Obama was a Christian, he gave a non-committal answer attempting to appeal to “Obama-is-a -Muslim ” voters. Not ready for prime-time.
    The surprise candidate could be George Pataki. He has appeal to ethnic voters in the North; he’s socially conservative enough but will not be pledging support for a constitutional amendment to make fertilized eggs “citizens”, thus attracting moderate voters. Being from New York will not help the party electorally though; there appears to be a real chance of a brokered convention. expect Kasich & Jindal to be in contention in the end.

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