Some interesting electoral numbers

Forget the subjective political tea-leaf readings, debate assessments and pundits’ unprovable prognostications. As President Clinton told the Democratic National Convention, “Do the arithmetic.” There is some revealing data that portends good news for the Obama team. Mike Hais, author of two groundbreaking books with Morley Winograd about millennials, Millennial Makeover (2008) and Millennial Momentum (2011), recently reported some data that could be decisive in the 2012 election.

Millennials are people born after 1982. Soon they will outnumber Gen X-ers, baby boomers and us Great Generation folk. Hais points to Frank N. Magid Associates surveys showing that millennials voted for the first time in 2008. They voted for Obama by a margin of two to one. Those millennials who were of voting age (41 percent of them) in 2008 numbered 39 million. Of them, 20 million voted, two-thirds for Obama, providing a margin of 7 million over Sen. McCain.

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This year, 61 percent of millennials are of voting age, meaning that 58 million of them will be eligible to vote, nearly 20 million more than in 2008. If only half the eligible millennials vote in 2012, 29 million of them, and as they are predicted to vote two to one for Obama again, the president will have a national margin of 10 million votes (3 million more votes than 2008). While, Hais points out, millennials are less enthusiastic now than in 2008 (59 percent now say voting is important, compared to 72 percent of older generations), the result remains impressive, even if the 2012 vote by millennials is lackluster compared to the 2008 election.

As Winograd and Hais pointed out in their two books, millennials are not doctrinaire liberals or conservatives. They share distinct values that traditionally have been viewed as either Democratic or Republican — fiscal responsibility, balanced budget, peaceful foreign policy, environmental protections and relaxed views about social practices like religion, gay relationships and women’s privacy. Based on the Obama and Romney stances on key issues to date, they’d again be inclined toward the Democratic candidate.

Disclosure: Hais and Winograd are clients of mine; but they are because I think their research and insight is important, or they wouldn’t be. Their data and analysis was fresh and on point in 2008; let’s see if such is the case again in 2012.


Ronald Goldfarb is an attorney, author and literary agent based in Washington, D.C., and Miami.