Why Women, Hispanics And Youth Won't Save Obama
Democrats know the slow economy will significantly hinder President Obama’s efforts to win reelection, but they could at least take some solace in the notion that several voting blocks would still come out strong for the president, perhaps giving him the victory. But even that hope may be fading.
While the president could still win those voting blocks, it is likely that the turnout will be lower and the spread between the president and Republican Mitt Romney will be smaller.
The Women’s Vote. The latest CBS/New York Times poll shows Romney leading Obama among women, 46 to 44 percent. In April it was Obama on top with 49 percent and Romney at 43 percent.
The CBS/NYT poll relied on a small sample, 615 adults nationwide, and other recent polls still have Obama leading with women; so it’s too soon to know if a shift is underway. Even so, such a shift makes sense, because women have lots of reasons to be dissatisfied with the current administration.
In families, women are often the ones buying the groceries, filling up the car, providing or paying for the health care, and even paying the bills. All of those costs are up, way up, while incomes have barely moved.
Of course, the majority of women work outside the home, and they are feeling the pinch there as well. New data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that 324,000 women dropped out of the civilian workforce in March and April, leaving only 57.6 percent of the civilian noninstitutional female population in. According to CNSNews, that’s the lowest participation rate since 1993.
One reason the unemployment rate isn’t even higher than 8.1 percent is that so many workers have quit looking for work — which helps explain why the economy seems worse than the slowly declining unemployment rate might imply. Women make up a good portion of that dropout rate.
The president, along with his plan for “free” contraception, can’t make women feel good about high prices, strained family budgets and no jobs. If anyone has a reason to be dissatisfied with the president’s performance, they do.
The Hispanic Vote. Obama did very well with Hispanics in 2008, carrying 67 percent compared to Republican John McCain’s 31 percent, according to the Pew Research Center.
President George W. Bush earned 45 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2004, compared to Senator John Kerry’s 55 percent, prompting commentator Dick Morris to assert that Hispanics gave Bush the reelection victory.
Democrats are hoping for that 2008 spread, or more, in 2012. And recent polls show Hispanics still strongly favor Obama. But will they turn out to vote?
Hispanics tend to be younger than the general population and have lower incomes—both are demographics that are less likely to vote. And, with a 2-percentage point higher unemployment rate (10.3 percent compared to 8.1 percent for the country), they are still struggling economically.
In addition, the president hasn’t delivered: He has never pushed immigration reform and it isn’t even on the table. Indeed, he’s been boasting of his deportation record. On the other hand, Romney has given Hispanics very little reason to vote for him.
So while Obama may still win the Hispanic vote, dissatisfaction with the economy and immigration may depress it. In addition, with the exception of Florida, most of the electoral-vote-heavy swing states that will likely decide the election don’t necessarily have big Hispanic populations (see here). And the majority of Florida’s Hispanic population is of Cuban background, which tends to vote Republican rather than Democrat. Thus even if the president wins the Hispanic vote by a wide margin, it isn’t clear that will help him in the Electoral College.
The Youth Vote. The president has been hitting the college campuses in an effort to energize those college-age Americans who were big supporters in 2008. While Obama got 53 percent of the popular vote four years ago, he received 66 percent of the youth vote, according to Pew. Can Obama get a repeat performance?
One of the challenges he faces is the rotten job market for college graduates. Gallup recently reported that one in three young adults (ages 18-29) is underemployed, up from 27.6 percent in July of last year—and that may get worse in a hurry. New college graduates—the same starry-eyed, hope-and-change freshmen from four years ago—are starting to hit the pavement looking for work, and they may not find it. Being forced to take a low-paying, dead-end job just to pay student loans may dampen their support. Not to mention the fact that all those unsuccessful job candidates could drive up the unemployment rate.
The economy and lack of job growth hits Obama’s core constituencies even harder than the general population. Will they cling to the man whose policies have failed them? The CBS/NYT poll of women may be the first hint that a shift is beginning to occur.