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Wisconsin and Young Voters

According to Rasmussen’s new Wisconsin poll, Romney very narrowly leads in the state 48-47%. Two interesting things stand out. Romney still trails badly among voters aged 18-39 (37-56%), but he runs away with the 40-64 group by 17 points. He also leads among 65+ voters by 11 points. Ryan fares poorly with young voters in his home state just as he does nationally, but he receives overwhelmingly positive ratings from voters over 40. The 18-39 Wisconsin respondents don’t believe Ryan is ready to be President if necessary (53% say he isn’t ready), they are slightly less likely to vote for Romney because Ryan is on the ticket, and his favorability is almost 20 points lower in the 18-39 group than it is in the other age groups. If this result is accurate, Romney is competitive in Wisconsin because of enormous leads among older voters. He very much needs those enormous leads with voters over 40 because he is getting killed with the 40% of the likely voters between the ages of 18 and 39.

The Wisconsin poll asks respondents to say what “scares them more about the future of Medicare,” Obama’s health care law or Ryan’s proposal. Overall, respondents say that Obama’s law scares them more. Curiously, it is voters aged 40-64 that are much more likely to answer this way, and the 18-39 respondents are much less likely. Ryan’s proposal “scares” younger voters more (48-36%), and Obama’s law scares the 40-64 group more by a huge margin (59-36%). That appears to be what’s driving Romney’s enormous lead with voters in this age group. If Romney and Ryan gain traction with their combined Medicare demagoguery/Medicare reform argument, it will be with these voters and not with the younger ones.

P.S. It is much the same story in Florida. Younger voters are more opposed to Ryan and his proposal than older ones, and unlike in Wisconsin Ryan is a slight drag on the ticket in Florida. That isn’t because older voters are against him. This is happening because voters aged 18-39 say they are less likely to vote for Romney by a 23-point margin (38-15%). Ryan breaks even with the 40-64 group, and 65+ voters love him. If Medicare anxieties were driving these preferences, one would expect exactly the opposite results.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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