The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) hosted a panel Wednesday, regarding the role of Millennials in the 2012 presidential election, and the general consensus was that the President has some ground to make up. The panelists agreed that though these young people are more socially liberal than ever, it is the poor state of the economy that will drive them to the polls in November.
The panel was moderated by AEI research assistant Andrew Rugg, and the panel included Neil Howe, the president and co-founder of LifeCourse Associates, Scott Keeter, director of survey research at the Pew Research Center and Ruy Teixeira, a senior fellow at The Century Foundation (TCF) and the Center for American Progress (CAP).
All three panelists agreed that the luster for President Barack Obama is not as strong as it was four years ago, even amongst the younger generation. According to an email from Generation Opportunity, the unemployment rate for 18-29 year-olds is at 12.8 percent, but that number jumps to 16.8 percent when the 1.7 million Millennials who have given up looking for work are included.
The panelists also agreed that the Millennials tend to be more liberal on the social issues than they are on anything else. Regardless, there was a concurrence that because of the economy, social issues would not be front and center in this fall’s election.
“[They’re] still the most Left generation in history,” said Teixeira. “There is a 24-point lead for Obama.
Howe said that despite being liberal on the social issues young people are still very “pro-market.”
“When it comes to social issues they are to the Left, but for reasons that are baffling to the older generation,” said Howe.
Despite the differences between Millennials and their parents on social issues, Keeter believes the economy will be what drives not just young people, but everyone to the polls this November.
“I don’t think people are going to be voting on those [social] issues,” Howe said. “The economy will be front and center.”