Crunching the Numbers: Why Obama's Youth Outreach may not be Worth it

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Young people overwhelmingly vote Democrat, but young people overwhelmingly don't vote.

The images and attitudes of 2008 have led the Obama political organization and Democrats in general to believe that young voters are a powerful resource that could change the election.

That's why Obama today is subjecting himself to an MTV town hall moderated by someone named "Sway" and will face all kinds of questions about what college kids predictably want to know about: sex, drugs, his own past, etc.

Having already been on "The View" Obama's latest foray into daytime television (the session starts at 4 p.m. Eastern today) hasn't caused many eyebrows to rise. But Obama knows that there is always risk for any president when he tries to look hip - they usually fail and risk looking un-presidential in the process.

Is it worth it?Young voters (ages 18-29) made up 18 percent of the 2008 presidential electorate, according to exit polls.

In 2004 young voters made up 17 percent.

One percent?

It hardly seems like making such a fuss about. Granted it was a modern record for youth participation, but not the kind of outpouring to merit the endless rhapsodizing we've heard about reinvigorating the 2008 Obama coalition to go vote in 2010.

We know that young voters are even less likely to participate in midterm elections.

An MTV poll conducted in advance of today's town hall shows Obama's approval rating among college-age Americans dropping from 60 percent to 54 percent over the past year. The message to and from Obama: Young folks are heading back toward apathy and they need to, as the president says, "guard the change."

But in 2006, only 12 percent of those who turned out nationally were under 30, and that was a very strong showing. Young voters were especially riled up over the Iraq war and Hurricane Katrina and came out in higher-than-usual numbers. A more typical year might see young voters as less than 10 percent of those who turn out.

In 2006, young voters were half the number of those ages 30-44, and just more than a third of those 45-59.

Part of Obama's yearning for youth is the fact that he won the demographic by a huge 66 percent margin. Even in small numbers, they were potent for Obama, who did 12 points better with the group than John Kerry had four years earlier.

There are also the intangibles. Young people can draw old people, especially Baby Boomers who were particularly susceptible to Obama's charms. Having a child come home from college talking about Obama or going to a rally may have moved an untold number of oldsters to come Obama's way.

It's unlikely that those intangibles are going to be recreated for a president who now talks about spending the next two years, consolidating legislative gains and frequently laments the impatience of his own supporters.

And midterm elections are about taxes and government policy. Presidential elections are about personality. Obama was cooler than John McCain, but neither Harry Reid nor Sharron Angle is one bit cool.

Obama's 2008 victory was due to killing McCain among independent voters - about a third of the electorate -- by 8 points. Previous cycles had seen that group divide almost evenly.

This year, polls show independents leaning Republican by 12 points - a shocking margin.

No amount of "boxers or briefs" questions is going to change that structural problem for Democrats. And even if it does help fire up the kids, there won't be enough of them to do much good.

The Day in Quotes

"When my husband was here in Wisconsin a couple of weeks ago, he talked about how independent and outspoken Russ is...and how Russ doesn't always agree with him. So Russ, that's something that you and I have in common,"

-- First lady Michelle Obama at a fundraiser for Sen. Russ Feingold."The president has done an excellent job in joining me in helping raise money for American Crossroads"

-- Karl Rove in an appearance on FOX News.

"Obama fan throws book at President during PA rally. Obama ignored it. Must've thought it was copy of the Constitution"

-- Tweet from former Sen. Fred Thompson (R-TN)

"The glaciers are melting faster than the Senate seems to be able to act."

-- Hose Speaker Nancy Pelosi decrying the slow pace of the Senate on taking up global warming legislation during a conference call with liberal bloggers.

"If it's really hot, the older folks have trouble, so they take a hit."

-- Carl Hutchinson, Revolutionary re-enactor for the Sudbury Companies of Militia and Minute in Massachusetts, explaining to the Wall Street Journal that older members of his aging unit offer to die first in mock battles, which is why he welcomes Tea Party interest in the era.

"I'd be the first to say let's repeal it."

-- Gov. Joe Manchin (D-WV) telling the Washington Examiner that if elected to the Senate he would seek repeal of Obamacare if he could not get fellow Democrats to agree to end the individual mandate and small-business reporting requirements.

"I just think the reality at this point is that, barring some major screw-up or international incident, the Republicans are very likely to take the House."

-- Tom Davis, a former Virginia congressman and former head of the National Republican Campaign Committee, to the New York Times.

"We're just a few weeks from what I believe will be a tsunami."

-- Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX), head of the National Republican Campaign Committee, quoted in Newsmax.

"It's not that we believed our own press or press releases, but there was definitely a sense at the beginning that we could really change Washington. ‘Arrogance' isn't the right word, but we were overconfident."

-- An unnamed White House staffer quoted in the New York Times Magazine.

"I know Arianna doesn't like it. But I like taupe."

-- President Obama, quoted in the New York Times Magazine, defending his earth-toned redecorating of the Oval Office from criticism of liberal Web publisher Arianna Huffington.

"There is probably a perverse pride in my administration - and I take responsibility for this; this was blowing from the top - that we were going to do the right thing, even if short-term it was unpopular... you can't be neglecting of marketing and P.R. and public opinion."

-- President Obama quoted in the New York Times Magazine.

"I do think he's paid a political price, somewhat, for having to be tied to Congress."

-- David Plouffe, President Obama's campaign manager, placing blame for Obama's swoon with voters.

"Those comments just give our candidates, who are already trying to defend their vote on the stimulus, one more booby trap to deal with in debates."

-- An unnamed Democratic official expressing frustration to FOX News colleague Trish Turner about President Obama's belated discovery, shared with the New York Times Magazine, that there are no such things as "shovel ready" projects.

"After the election, I'd say no more pointing back, no more blaming the Bush administration. It's O.K. to do that during the campaign and then stop. But to do it as much as we do it, it sounds like a broken record. And after two years, you own it."

-- Gov. Ed Rendell (D-PA), former head of the Democratic National Committee, quoted in the New York Times Magazine.

"It means all the world to us to know that there are prayer circles out there and people who are keeping the spirits clean around us."

-- First Lady Michelle Obama on the "Tom Joyner Morning Show."

Dem Revolt Continues

Rep. Steve Driehaus (D-OH) is asking liberals to keep his reelection campaign going after the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee withdrew funding for his race.

Driehaus, one of several pro-life Democrats who took a tough vote in support of the president's health care law despite an abortion-funding loophole, was cast off by the national party this week as the DCCC shifts money to other, more competitive races.

Republican former Rep. Steve Chabot, whom Driehaus beat in 2008, is heavily favored to win the Cincinnati-based district.

Driehaus is hoping to turn on the liberal "netroots" with a plea for replacement dollars, and a complaint that money is going to support swing district candidates who balked at parts of the Obama agenda while Driehaus went all in.

Here's his pitch to the liberal online fundraising coalition Act Blue:

"I've had the guts to stand up for you. When it comes to the tough votes on health care, changing our economy, turning things around, and standing up to Wall Street, I've taken those tough votes because it was the right thing to do for the American people. Now the DCCC is walking away. Let them know you support candidates who stand up for your principles. Send a message to the DCCC and to all Americans that when we voted for change in 2008, we meant it."

Driehaus is the flip side to Roy Herron, the Tennessee Democrat who said Tuesday that his funding got pulled because he is too conservative and won't vote for Nancy Pelosi for speaker of the House.

But in both cases, it probably just amounts to Democrats writing off their districts as the election battlefield continues to expand.

You can add Rep. Jim Marshall (D-GA) to the list of House Democrats who say they will not vote for another term as speaker of the House for Nancy Pelosi if he is reelected.

He told the Associated Press Wednesday that he would back someone more moderate.

When the AP asked Marshall two weeks ago whether he'd vote for Pelosi for speaker, the congressman said he didn't have a candidate.

Scandal Sheets - Florida Felons, Frank's Flight

Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink helped lock up her party's nomination by leading a 2008 crusade against issuing mortgage broker licenses to felons.

As the state's chief financial officer, Sink hammered then-Republican Gov. Charlie Crist over the practice and rode the issue to statewide prominence. Crist fired the state banking regulator who was in charge of the program.

Now, the St. Petersburg Times reports that Sink's office has been issuing insurance licenses to felons - documenting 11 instances -- and that Sink's staff could not say how many felons the office had licensed during her tenure.

Frank's Trip

Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) is answering questions about a trip he took to the Virgin Islands last year on the private jet of Donald Susman, a hedge fund boss whose operation raked in $200 billion in bailout cash authorized by Frank's House Financial Services Committee.

Susman is the fiancée of Frank's fellow Democrat Rep. Chellie Pingree of Maine and Frank told the Boston Herald that he accompanied the couple on a "purely personal" trip.

Frank, a 30-year veteran of the House, is facing an unusually stiff challenge from Republican Sean Bielat this year.

Trail Riders - Palin Gets on the Bus; Trump and Christie Together; Domestic Dispute for VFW; Krauthammer on Obama's PR Problem

Poll Check

Nevada Senate - Rasmussen: Angle (R) 49, Reid (D) 48; Suffolk U: Reid (D) 46, Angle (R) 43

West Virginia Senate - Rasmussen: Raese (R) 49, Manchin (D) 46; CNN/Time: Raese (R) 44, Manchin (D) 44

Follow the Money -- Nearly $200 Million Spent in Five Weeks

House and Senate campaign spending on television is up 75 percent from 2008 according to a new study from Wesleyan University.

The Wesleyan Media Project found $198 million in spending by candidates, parties and outside groups over the past five weeks. Palin Will Kick off Tea Party Express Tour

Local reports say Sarah Palin will be on hand as the Tea Party Express starts its cross-country bus tour in Reno, Nev. on Monday.

2012 Watch - The Bridge and Tunnel Ticket?

Donald Trump and Gov. Chris Christie are headlining a fundraiser for the National Republican Senatorial Committee at Trump Towers on October 25.

VFW Fighting Over Endorsements

The Veterans of Foreign Wars and its own political action committee are in the midst of a civil war.

The VFW is calling on its PAC to rescind endorsements for Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Rep. Ron Klein (D-FL) after howls of outrage from the VFW's conservative-leaning membership.

But the group's PAC is autonomous and, like other Washington groups like the NRA and AARP, gives money and endorsements to incumbents who have voted the prescribed way on certain bills.

And Now, A Word From Charles

"[President Obama] said he was interested in policy, and hasn't done P.R. He gave 38 speeches on health care. We had to sit through half of them on the set -- and we suffered. This is a guy who didn't try to sell us? He was all about politics, but he failed."

-- Charles Krauthammer on "Special Report with Bret Baier" scoffing at the president's suggestion to the New York Times Magazine that he had focused too much on doing the right things but not enough to convince voters.

Fight Night - Expectations Met in Delaware

Anyone looking for a game changer in Wednesday night's Delaware Senate debate is unlikely to have found one.

Republican Christine O'Donnell was frenetic and combative. Democrat Chris Coons was wonkish and stolid.

O'Donnell seemed to have trouble finding time in the 90 minutes to fit in the zingers she had in her pocket for Coons.

"There are more people who support my Catholic faith than his Marxist beliefs," she told host Wolf Blitzer when asked about her views on social issues, making an allusion to a 1985 college newspaper column in which Coons wrote about becoming a Democrat following a relief trip abroad which saw him return home looking like a "bearded Marxist."Coons explained: "I am not now, nor have I ever been, anything but a clean-shaven capitalist."

O'Donnell seemed to step on her own line when she blurted out "You're just jealous you weren't on 'Saturday Night Live" when the discussion turned to the endless lampooning of O'Donnell's statements made as a talking head in the 1990s about dabbling in witchcraft.

Coons said he "dying to see" who would play him on the show. Given his dusty performance, Coons is likely alone in that desire.

The low ebb for O'Donnell probably came when Blitzer asked her which recent Supreme Court decisions she disagreed with:

"I'm very sorry...Right off the top of my head, I know that there are a lot, but I'll put it up on my Web site, I promise you."

Lagging by 16 points in the latest FOX News battleground state poll, O'Donnell didn't seem to have changed the momentum of the race.