First, while Rachel is right to congratulate McDonnell for his campaign’s youth outreach, I hardly think it has anything to do with young voters having gone to the GOP…
This doesn’t mean young voters have gone GOP, it means that when you put forth the effort to get young voters, you speak to their issues, and you get out the vote you get a good result.
I wish I felt comfortable celebrating the fact that the 2009 elections meant young voters were turning toward the GOP, but unfortunately I just don’t buy it. Hoff suggests that “18-29 year olds in Virginia voted for Bob McDonnell over the Democrat 54% to 44%” could indicate a new trend, but as Burris notes, in Virginia there was not a “strong Democrat at the top of the ticket but…[there was] a strong Republican.” The unfortunate fact is that one Republican candidate’s successful effort in winning the youth vote does not indicate any sort of trend for future elections (for a counterargument, just look to New Jersey, where 57% of young voters voted for Corzine).
And while Hoff notes that “turnout among 18-29 year olds was 19% in New Jersey and only 17% in Virginia,” an “alarmingly low” turnout, it would be a huge mistake for the GOP to write off the youth vote based upon these numbers. As I have written previously, what’s at stake here is that the Republican Party stands to lose a generation of voters to the Democratic Party, potentially for life. Although Chairman Steele has taken some major efforts to reform the Republican National Committee, such as a huge push to modernize the RNC’s new media efforts, there still has not been a substantial push by Steele’s RNC to win over young voters.
In the end, both Burris and Hoff agree that making a real, authentic effort to earn the votes of young voters will result in young voter turnout. The Republican Party still has time left to turn the tide and prevent many of today’s young voters from becoming lifelong Democrats; however, the clock is ticking and time is running out. Major congratulations are due to the McDonnell campaign and their young voter outreach, but there is no time to pat ourselves on the back. Both the RNC and Republican candidates must follow Bob McDonnell’s lead and find unique new ways to reach out to and ultimately win over young voters.