Home/Daniel Larison/Young Voters Are Not Flocking to Paul Ryan

Young Voters Are Not Flocking to Paul Ryan

Alana Goodman touts a Zogby poll showing a surge in support for Romney-Ryan among young voters:

Zogby wonders whether Romney’s choice of Paul Ryan could be boosting him with young voters. At the very least, it probably helps that Ryan breaks the mold of the media’s Republican stereotype. He’s young, has new ideas, and has (so far) avoided the third-rail social issues. Most young people also aren’t likely to be swayed by the Democratic Party’s Mediscare tactics. If anything, they’re probably more open than most groups to new ideas for Medicare and Social Security reform.

There are many, many things wrong with this. Zogby polls haven’t been all that reliable in a long time, so I doubt that support for Romney is at 41% among these voters. Even if 41% of young voters are supporting Romney, Ryan has nothing to do with this. According to Rasmussen’s most recent polling on the Ryan selection and his favorability, voters aged 18-39 are much more likely to know nothing about Ryan and to say that selecting him makes them less likely to vote Republican. Almost one third of voters in this age group have no idea what Ryan’s ideas are, so they can hardly be excited about how new they are. If he breaks “the mold of the media’s Republican stereotype,” most younger voters aren’t aware of this.

43% of voters aged 18-39 say that the Ryan selection has no impact on their voting preferences, another 32% say it makes them less likely to vote Republican, and just 19% say it makes them more likely to support the GOP ticket. Among younger voters, Ryan harms the Republican ticket. The good news for Republicans in the Rasmussen poll is that the Ryan selection has been much better-received by the other age groups*. I am guessing here, but it is probably the case that respondents are viewing the Ryan selection through the lens of their previous voting preference, so the most heavily Democratic-leaning age group is naturally also the most uninterested in or opposed to Ryan.

Younger voters are also far more likely to say that Ryan is not ready to be President if necessary: 45% say he is not ready, 33% are unsure, and just 23% say that he is. They are least able to identify Ryan’s ideology (30% are unsure), and least likely to say that Romney made the right choice in selecting Ryan (27%). These respondents are evenly split in their views of Ryan (35% fav/36% unfav), but they view Ryan much, much less favorably than voters in the 40-64 and 65+ groups. By way of comparison, Ryan’s Rasmussen favorability among 65+ voters is 61%, and among voters 40-64 it’s 59%. If Republicans want to believe the Rasmussen poll that Ryan’s overall favorability rating is currently 50%, they should understand that it has nothing to do with younger voters. Most younger voters are either indifferent to or running away from Paul Ryan. There is no positive “Ryan effect” on most of these voters.

* Broken down by age group, favorable and unfavorable views of Ryan are practically the reverse of support for Medicare reform. Older voters tend to like Ryan, but oppose his plan, while younger voters tend to dislike him while being more likely to support changes to Medicare.

Update: According to Rasmussen’s polling from the last week in July, Romney receives support from young voters in the mid-30s: 34% (18-29) and 35% (30-39).

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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