Opinion: Millennials are voters

We can expect the usual “so what” response from political pundits to a new Harvard Institute of Politics poll that found growing support for President Obama among the Millennial Generation – the population cohort between the ages of 18 and 29.

The web-based poll of 3,096 millennials taken between March 23 and April 9 found Obama leading his likely opponent, Mitt Romney, by a 17-point margin – gaining 6 percentage points since a similar poll taken in late November.

The conventional wisdom about this age group is that it doesn’t vote. That was the rap before the 2008 election when a number of pieces written before the general election dismissed youth enthusiasm for Obama as mostly liberal slackers who couldn’t be bothered to put down their bongs and go out to vote.
The CW on voter participation holds that it is the other end of the population spectrum – the older folks – who vote in higher than average numbers. And the older folk, well represented among the Tea Party cohort, aren’t big fans of the president.

The problem with this kind of echoed analysis is that it is heavy on the conventional and light on the wisdom.

The reality is that Millennials are voting in increasing numbers. Two million more in the age cohort voted in 2008 than did in 2004, bringing participation to a respectable 51 percent among Millennials. Analysis of the 2008 also found that minorities within this age group had an even higher percentage of participation – another fact that runs counter to accepted notions about voter participation.

The Obama campaign realized this in 2008 and again in the current election. A Pew Research Center report found that 25 percent of millennial voters were contacted by the Obama campaign in 2008 compared to 13 percent by the McCain campaign. This year Obama has seized many of the generation’s key issues, including his call for universities to lower costs, raising the availability of student loans, health care access and income disparity. Romney, who has struggled with an enthusiasm gap among older voters, has yet to make a credible pitch (other than deficit reduction) to younger voters.

But conventional wisdom can be a double-edged sword. The Obama campaign puts itself in peril if it assumes the youth vote is a lock in November and Romney would be wrong not to make his own pitch to what is becoming a power segment of the American electorate.

-Fred Bayles, the director of Boston University’s Statehouse Program, is a former national correspondent for The Associated Press and USA TODAY. He is author of Field Guide to Local Reporting.

Harvard poll: Only 1 in 5 Millennials thinks country is headed in right direction


Brooklyn man charged in roommate's stabbing death

A Brooklyn man accused of violently stabbing his roommate to death on Monday is in police custody and faces murder charges.


Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…


OkCupid admits to Facebook-style experimenting on customers

By Sarah McBrideSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - OkCupid, a top U.S. matchmaking website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said on…


MTA fares still increasing 4 percent in newly…

The agency said the 4 percent increases, previously announced in December, will remain steady even as the MTA deals with increasing labor costs.


Interview: Brendan Gleeson on the way 'Calvary' depicts…

Brendan Gleeson talks about how his new film "Calvary" began over drinks and how his character here is the opposite of the lead in "The Guard."


'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.


'Glee' star Lea Michele to appear on 'Sons…

"Glee" star Lea Michele has been confirmed as a guest star in the final season of "Sons of Anarchy."


TV watch list, Monday, July 28: 'The Bachelorette'…

See Andi Dorfman make her big choice on tonight's 'Bachelorette' finale.


Angelo Cataldi: Ryan Howard deserves better from Phillies

Just last week, Ryan Howard endured the embarrassment of a benching that was inevitable, and yet still shocking.


Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.


Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”


Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.


Glasgow: Hey, hey, the gangs aren't here

This European city has done a good job getting rid of its more violent residents and revitalizing with artists.


Babson College tops list of best colleges for…

Money magazine has just released its inaugural list of "The Best Colleges for Your Money" -- and the answers have surprised many. Babson College, which…


NYC teens learn how to develop apps during…

Through a program sponsored by CampInteractive, the high schoolers designed their own community-focused apps.


The Ministry of Silly Walks app is both…

Monty Python have dug into their back catalogue for cash-ins once more, but with the Ministry of Silly Walks app, they've made something that's fun too.