Republicans should be very worried. The youth vote grew in the New Jersey and Virginia gubernatorial elections, and those young people voted Democrat.
In Virginia, the youth vote as a share of the overall electorate increased by 3 points. The Democratic share of the youth vote increased by one percent, while the Republican share of dropped by 14%. Terry McAuliffe beat Ken Cuccinelli 45%-40% among younger voters. In New Jersey, Chris Christie was piling up big overall numbers, but he lost with young voters 51%-49%.
Republicans should be very afraid. Young voters are becoming solidly Democratic. The only demographic that Chris Christie lost in New Jersey was voters age 18-29. It doesn’t appear to matter who is at the top of the ticket, the Republican Party is a major turnoff to young voters right now.
It appears that Christie’s margin of victory had less to do with him being a different kind of Republican than Hurricane Sandy. The goodwill that Gov. Christie generated with his Sandy leadership was one of the biggest factors in his impressive showing. The fact that the Democratic Party refused to challenge Christie very hard also helped him run up a big win.
The election of 2013 revealed that Republicans have done nothing to correct their problems. On the other side, the new Democratic coalition that has grown up around President Obama took another step towards becoming the driving force behind the Democratic Party in all election years.
Republicans still don’t have a clue when it comes to appealing to young voters, women, and minorities. There is some wishful thinking in Republican circles that young voters will stop voting when Barack Obama is not on the ballot anymore. Hillary Clinton has been accepted and embraced by the Obama coalition, and young voters aren’t going to turn their backs on Democrats because Obama is no longer at the top of the ticket.
Democrats understand that issues matter to their new coalition. These voters are demonstrating that they aren’t voting for the candidate. They’re voting for the ideas. Since the Republicans have no appealing ideas, these voters aren’t persuadable I think New Jersey was a special circumstance. I don’t think Chris Christie can win 21% African-American support and 51% Hispanic support in a presidential election. Christie is pulling a page from the Guiliani playbook by using a the moment that brought him to national prominence as a springboard for his White House ambitions.
Young voters showed that they will show up to vote in an off off year election. No one should be surprised if young voters across the country turn out in 2014 to take House back from the Republican Party.
Young voters are here. They’ve voting, and they are supporting the Democratic Party.