Bill Whalen: Politi-Cal

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Alex P. Keaton Republicans — the Sequel?

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Michael J. Fox, aka "Alex P. Keaton"

Harvard’s Institute of Politics is out with its latest national poll of the political views of America’s 18-29 year-olds and the news isn’t good for Democrats.

Warning sign #1: 41% of young Republicans plan on voting in the midterm election, compared to just 35% of young Democrats and a mere 13% of independents.

Warning sign #2: a majority (56%) of 18-29 year-olds still approve of Barack Obama’s job performance, but not POTUS’s approach to major issues.

56% of respondents were sour on the federal deficit; 53% gave a thumbs-down on health care; 51% disapprove of the Administration’s handling of the economy; 54% had problems with Afghanistan policy; 55% had a gripe with Iran strategy.

Getting back to the GOP-Democratic divide, 53% of the young Republicans who cast a vote for John McCain in 2008 say they’re likely vote again in November. But the same Obamamania buzz that existed in 2008 doesn’t seem there again for young Democrats, with only 44% who voted for the President saying they’re likely to go to the polls.

So much for the certainty of a “permanent majority” based on young voters voting twice for Obama in 2008 and 2012, then remaining reliably Democratic in future elections, ala those Americans who started during the FDR years and stayed with the Democratic Party until Ronald Reagan came along. Then again, Karl Rove once talked about the Bush Administration as the cornerstone of a longer Republican reign.

Approximately 22 million younger Americans voted for Obama in 2008, surveys show the voters under-30 went with Obama by about a 2-1 margin.

The question is: can the GOP bolster its relationship with voting “Millennials” heading into the 2012 election? It wasn’t hard to do 30 years ago, when Reagan did astonishingly well with first-time and under-29 voters (a 20% advantage over Walter Mondale in the 1984 landslide). Then again, Reagan offered an optimistic alternative to Democratic cynicism, during an era of economic expansion.

Pundits during the 198o’s referred to the new, young Reaganites as “Alex P. Keaton Republicans”, based on Michael J. Fox’s character on the NBC sitcom “Family Ties”. He wore ties, carried a briefcase, aspired to make a fortune on Wall Street, and mocked his parents’ liberal sensibilities.

But actually, young Alex had more than one Republican idol.

Elyse Keaton (Alex’s mom): “Alex was offended by our political magazines and ripped them up.”

Alex P. Keaton: “You have no proof.”

Elyse: “Yes we do. We found your rattle on the floor next to the evidence.”

Alex: “It could have Mallory’s.”

Elyse: “It was your Nixon rattle.”

We’ll see if any Republican hopeful is able to rattle the Obama grip on young voters.

And if Hollywood interjects Sarah Palin or some other Republican icon into a comedy show other than “Saturday Night Live”.


Written by Bill Whalen

March 10, 2010 at 11:15 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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