Young voters under 30 turned out in large numbers in 2008 for Barack Obama, but a new survey shows the economy under Obama’s watch has hit them hard.

A Generation Opportunity poll indicates 84 percent of voters aged 18 to 29 are planning a major life change because of the economy, including delaying marriage and a home purchase.

Twenty-six percent said they changed their living situation by taking in roommates or moving back home, 40 percent skipped a vacation and more than half have had to adjust their entertainment budget, the GO report said.

The poll also showed that while 51 percent of that age group voted in 2008, 76 percent plan to vote this fall.

So into that already volatile mix comes an announcement from the College Republican National Committee of the largest youth mobilization effort in the group’s 120-year history, a plan dubbed “Operation Red November.”

The grassroots movement of college Republicans nationwide aims to “recruit and mobilize college students to take back our future by voting and volunteering for Republican candidates in local and state level elections in 2012.”

The group is aiming for more than 6 million live voter contacts, 100,000 volunteer hours and 50,000 new College Republicans.

“The CRNC’s quarter million members provide the boots on the ground for the Republican Party. We will utilize our existing membership and our trained field staff to mobilize a youth effort that has never been seen before in our organization’s history,” CRNC Chairman Alex Schriver said.

According to the group, the operation will be based out of its office in Washington, D.C., and supported by a network of field offices throughout the country.

“We’ve specifically chosen battleground states where winning the youth vote will make or break this election,” says Brad Alexander, CRNC national field director.

Alexander said the group’s field staff will be “working every day to show young adults why a vote for a Republican is a vote for a better future.”

“As the nationally elected voice for young conservatives across the country, the CRNC drives and defines the debate for College Republicans and bring youth-oriented issues to the forefront of the political discourse,” the organization’s strategy statement online says.

“On campus, the CRNC recruits, trains, mobilizes, and engages college-aged students in all 50 states and Washington D.C. to win elections and advocate for conservative ideals. Every year, College Republicans from all across America join together to help elect Republican candidates, support the Republican agenda, and become the future leaders of the conservative movement.

“Our efforts – whether disseminating campaign literature, canvassing neighborhoods, placing lawn signs, or calling voters – make the difference in Republican victories and drive our party forward,” the organization said.

“For many students, campus activism is their gateway into the Republican Party. Our goal is to build and foster lifelong allegiance with the party and the conservative movement for college students.”

CNN noted over the winter that there already was evidence the “youth vote” had moved beyond Obama.

“In 2012, the youth vote is moving on and throwing those omnipresent ‘Hope’ bumper stickers and T-shirts in garbage bins,” CNN said.

“Not because of apathy. Not because another candidate generates more enthusiasm. Not because of his character. Not because they think voting is pointless,” CNN said. “The 18-29 vote is up for grabs in 2012 because youth can’t afford cars to put bumper stickers on and those T-shirts are worn out from too many days sitting on the couch unemployed.”

And just last week, WND reported on the Generation Opportunity assessment of the economy, including:

  • 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 Capitol Journal recently highlighted Obama’s campaign, noting that among the “must-win” demographic groups for Obama is the youth.

The others are college-educated white women, Hispanics and African-Americans.

The report noted young voters are “notoriously hard to turn,” so a massive push on the part of the Obama campaign to give them incentives is expected.

CNN’s report noted that without the youth vote four years ago, Obama would have lost at least two states, Indiana and North Carolina. That would have cost him 26 electoral votes – a margin that in 2012 could be decisive.

“It’s time the president did some soul searching on his feelings toward the youth vote,” wrote CNN’s Brad Chase. “And he better do it soon, because the GOP candidate … won’t hesitate to take the youth vote.”

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