In a potentially troubling sign for President Obama’s reelection hopes, registered voters under age 30 and Latinos, two key electoral blocs for the president, are less excited to vote than other groups, according to a new Gallup survey.
“Fifty-eight percent of U.S. registered voters aged 18 to 29 say they will “definitely vote” this fall, well below the current national average of 78% and far below 18- to 29-year-olds’ voting intentions in the fall of 2004 and 2008,” says Gallup.
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Only 64 percent of Latino registered voters say they will definitely vote this fall, also well below the national average. Seventy-six percent of blacks said they will definitely vote, which is about the same as the overall number.
In contrast, 85 percent of registered voters over 50 say they will vote.
Why does this matter? Because the winner of the Obama-Romney race will be shaped largely by turnout, and increasingly the American electorate is polarized among age and racial lines: young, Latino and black voters are strongly behind Obama, while Romney leads among older voters. Obama leads by more than 20 points among young voters, 40 points among Latinos and around 90 points among African-Americans. But he will need these voters to cast ballots in high percentages, like in 2008, to win reelection.
To be sure, so far, these groups are expected to turn out in substantial numbers, even if not 2008 levels. Most major polls show the president with a narrow lead, which would be impossible if their data did not suggest members of Obama’s core base will show up in November.