Young voters – the ones who so notably turned out for Barack Obama in 2008 – are fed up with being unemployed, and many are beginning to turn against the president’s big-government solutions to America’s economic woes.
One group tracking this turnaround is Generation Opportunity, or GO, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that seeks to mobilize Americans aged 18-29 toward “real solutions” to joblessness and the flailing economy.
GO boasted this past week that its family of Facebook pages – with names like “We Like Small Government” and “Gas Prices Are too D— High” – have topped over 4 million “likes” and growing, fueled by a young demographic that polls show is increasingly disillusioned with Obama’s economic policies.
“Every day, young Americans search for meaningful, full-time jobs in a career of their choice and, instead, experience first-hand the stark reality imposed by the poor economy,” states Paul T. Conway, president of GO and a former chief of staff of the U.S. Department of Labor. “Rather than resorting to pessimism, however, young adults are taking a harder look at who and what is creating barriers to economic opportunity.
“Increasingly, they identify elected officials and policies that result in more government interference,” Conway continues. “As they continue to deal with the highest sustained unemployment since World War II, Millennials have definitely concluded that government intervention in the economy is the problem, not the solution.”
If Conway is right, it puts “Millenials” – 66 percent of whom voted for Obama in the last presidential election – at stark odds with economic solutions the president has touted thus far.
From the stimulus bill passed early in his presidency to proposed job bills and even the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Obama has repeatedly demonstrated a belief in increased government involvement in the private sector, while at the same time calling for increased taxes on the investors and business owners many Millenials are hoping will hire them.
Conway told WND that message isn’t connecting.
“Whether you’re a Republican, Democrat or independent, at the end of the day, your aspirations, career, dreams, ability to live the life you envision are all tied to full-time work,” Conway said. “When you have politicians who vilify those who have the means and courage to create business, and you have so many looking for jobs … when we’re out in the field talking to people about solutions instead, we get immediate interest.”
“I’ll tell you about an amazing poll,” Conway told WND. “A July 22 poll of 1,000 voters from the Service Employees International Union, or SEIU [which spent $28 million backing Obama in the 2008 election], asked 18-29 years olds whether they would vote for Obama or Romney. Though 66 percent voted for Obama in 2008, only 49 percent answered Obama in 2012, with 41 percent for Romney and undecideds at 10 percent.
“When asked about the president’s job performance, 37 percent approved, 57 percent disapproved,” Conway continued. “When asked if the country was heading in the right direction, 22 percent said yes; 75 percent said America is on the wrong track.
“As a veteran of over 100 campaigns, when you have a swing vote of 10 percent in a demographic and that demographic is saying at 75 percent that the country is on the wrong track – when you’ve got a candidate formerly at 66 percent support now below 50 percent – you have a major problem as a candidate,” Conway concluded.
“The core issue,” Conway told WND, “is that people cannot find economic opportunity, cannot find meaningful, full-time jobs in the field of their choice, and they’re being asked to settle for the status quo instead: part-time work, not in their field, at below their skill level for their education. People are not going to settle for that.”
GO has been tracking the impact of the slumping economy on 18-29-year-olds and has released a series of reports showing how the demographic has not only suffered disproportionately under the economic conditions, but has also turned against the president’s plans for more and more government solutions to the problem.
According to GO’s reports:
- While the national unemployment rate has hovered around 8 percent, the non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for 18-29-year-olds is 12.7 percent
- If the additional 1.715 million young adults that are not counted as “unemployed” because they have given up looking for work were factored in, the actual unemployment rate for 18-29-year-olds would rise to 16.7 percent.
- Only 31 percent of those 18-29 approve of Obama’s handling of youth unemployment
- While the president has touted raising taxes on the wealthy as a key component to financial solvency, 69 percent of 18-29-year-olds prefer reductions in federal spending over raising taxes to balance the budget.
The numbers prompted the organization to launch its newest Facebook page, “We Like Small Government.”
The organization claims its newest page “fosters debate on the appropriate size and scope of government, the impact high taxes and more regulations have on job creation and the importance of economic opportunity and individual freedom. The page has already amassed over 400,000 fans.”
Other GO pages, like “The Constitution by GO” and “Being American by GO” have amassed over 1 million and 1.5 million Facebook “likes,” respectively.
The Facebook pages are part of GO’s strategy to create what Conway called “a true fusion” of education efforts, field organizers, online tools and a social-media audience.
“We have a full-time, paid staff and a huge volunteer network to help with a series of events,” Conway told WND. “In the past 10 days, we’ve hit 10 states and 35 different events, booths to meet people or sign up people with iPads, to meet with those who feel disaffected, those who are not registered to vote, we work to register them – tens of thousands of people.
“We also have campaigns to call voters, reminding them to vote, and a series of training guides on our website,” Conway said. “We’ve already had tens of thousands of downloads, people using the guides to organize friends, learning from guides on how to be an effective radio call-in guest, how to organize events, how to blog, write a press release or a letter to the editor and more.
“The response has been fantastic,” Conway said. “We tell the young voters, ‘We know you changed history in 2008; we know you can do it again in 2012.'”