As You Were

Devin Coughlin's blog.
Styles: Serious Spare

January 30, 2008

The Donut-Holers

In New Hampshire and Florida, Obama won the 18-24 year-old vote and the 29-39 year-old vote, but Hillary won soundly in the donut-hole from 25-29.

As a 27 year-old Hillary supporter (especially now that Edwards is definitely dropping out), I find it pretty interesting.

What is it about people in that range that makes them less likely to support Obama and more sympathetic to Clinton?

My opinion: the 25-29 cohort came of political age during the Clinton impeachment and the Bush v. Gore era. (These were certainly the defining moments of my political life). We learned early on that 1) the Republicans could and would subscribe to a total war political philosophy and that 2) the media is only too happy to play along. Because of this, I think we are less likely to buy Obama's "new kind of politics" schtick -- because if one side brings Kumbaya (see, e.g. Joe Lieberman) and the other brings a machine gun, it's pretty easy to guess who's going to win. We also, I think, tend to feel that the Clintons did not get a fair shake the first time around and therefore might deserve a second chance.

Compare this to the older cohort -- they were politically aware in Bill Clinton's first term, and thus remember all of his missteps: don't ask, don't tell, universal healthcare, Somalia. Their sense is less that the Clintons didn't get a fair shake, but that rather that they screwed up royally. It seems to me that these folks would be more likely to support Obama because Obama has similar policies to Hillary Clinton (for the most part) but is not Hillary Clinton.

The younger cohort came of age during the build up to the Iraq war and thus saw most of the Democratic establishment kowtow to Bush on almost everything. Their impression of the Clintons is as weak, pathetic figures who couldn't stand up on the most important issue of the time. It's no wonder they're susceptible to a "change, or bust" argument. (Although, honestly, I don't understand why kids these days buy into the bipartisan argument -- all the big mistakes of the last 8 years have been bipartisan in nature. The lesson, to me, would be that we need more partisanship, not less, but, again, I grew up in the Clinton impeachment.)

It's also worth noting that I have not observed an excess of Hillary support in my own friends and acquaintances -- they all seem to be supporting Obama. I should probably ask them why, but I suspect I won't like the answers. (I heard someone say, un-ironically, that they were going to vote for Obama because "he's for hope.") Gaaaah. Count me squarely in the donut-hole.

Posted by coughlin at 9:00 AM