Bruce and I are both of the Reagan generation; we came of age in the 1980s. Like a majority of those born in the 1960s and early 1970s, our enthusiasm for the nation’s president grew as his days in office lengthened. The Gipper left office well loved by the twentysomethings of his day.
My generation warmed to the Gipper not as much when he was a candidate as when he was president. We loved him more in 1984 than we did in 1980. Once in office, he gave us hope that we would find jobs and have a better future. Obama, by contrast, gave us hope that his administration would be different from that of his predecessor, but once in office, the enthusiasm of his young followers began to wane.
Yesterday, the New York Times ran a story confirming this trend among today’s under 30 crowd, Stung by Recession, Young Voters Shed Image as Obama Brigade:
In the four years since President Obama swept into office in large part with the support of a vast army of young people, a new corps of men and women have come of voting age with views shaped largely by the recession. And unlike their counterparts in the millennial generation who showed high levels of enthusiasm for Mr. Obama at this point in 2008, the nation’s first-time voters are less enthusiastic about him, are significantly more likely to identify as conservative and cite a growing lack of faith in government in general, according to interviews, experts and recent polls.
Polls show that Americans under 30 are still inclined to support Mr. Obama by a wide margin. But the president may face a particular challenge among voters ages 18 to 24. In that group, his lead over Mitt Romney — 12 points — is about half of what it is among 25- to 29-year-olds, according to an online survey this spring by the Harvard Institute of Politics. And among whites in the younger group, Mr. Obama’s lead vanishes altogether.
Obama’s appeal among this generation of twentysomethings was based on his appeal as a candidate. The Gipper’s on his record as the nation’s chief executive.