Young voters turn out for Obama

A young woman gets her shirt written on after the announcement of Barack Obama as President on November 4, 2008.

Despite warnings of an “enthusiasm gap” in this election, young people came out solidly for Barack Obama again this election. According to exit polls, the president won 60 percent of the youth vote -- that is, people under 30. Mitt Romney captured 37 percent. So have the Democrats locked in a new generation of supporters?

The conventional wisdom is that if you vote the same way a couple of times, you’ll vote that way for life. Peter Levine directs a youth research center at Tufts University. “Some of the loyalty might be to Barack Obama, personally, rather than to the party,” he says. “But I will say that this generation has expressed relatively liberal positions on both social and economic issues now for eight or ten years in a row.”

Those views are likely to stick. Morley Winograd is co-author of two books on the Millennial generation. He says by about age 25, people’s world views tend to solidify and it’s hard to change their minds. Despite their fickle reputation, he says Millennials are fiercely loyal to brands they trust. He says the only hope for the republican party is to rebrand itself. “As any number of firms in the marketplace can attest, it’s really tough to displace the number one brand, unless you recreate the marketplace and do something dramatically different,” he says.

Republicans can’t afford to ignore this generation of voters. By the end of the decade Winograd says Millennials will make up more than one third of adults.

About the author

Amy Scott is Marketplace’s education correspondent covering the K-12 and higher education beats, as well as general business and economic stories.

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