OBENSHAIN: In 2008, Obama won young people by 34 percentage points. They were more entranced by the “hope and change,” transcending-politics-as-usual message than most. But the veneer wore off quickly as they heard “We are the change we’ve been waiting for” shift to “I won, you lost.” And then there are the economic consequences.
For the first time in history, young people think their future will be less prosperous than their parents’. Student-loan debt has surpassed credit-card debt. In June, the jobless rate for 18- to-24-year-olds was nearly twice the overall jobless rate. And young people know that they will bear the brunt of either paying back an astronomical national debt or dealing with the consequences of default and bankruptcy.
It is unlikely that Romney will win the youth vote. His message has not been able to catch fire with young people, to energize and inspire them, although Paul Ryan has lit something of a spark. But while Obama will probably still win young people, the margin will be diminished, and the number of young people sitting this one out will rise dramatically.
LOPEZ: Everyone’s offering armchair political advice to Mitt Romney. How about to the voter?
OBENSHAIN: The American voter wants a presidential candidate who stands for something — courageously advocates a set of ideas based on sound, well-stated logic and fact. They don’t want equivocating, they don’t want defensiveness or weakness, and they have had enough of division. They don’t mind differences being painted clearly; in fact, they need to know why one vision and one set of ideas are different. But they need specifics. They trusted blindly last time, fell for lofty words and slogans, and they got four years of economic malaise. The voter’s advice for Romney: Be presidential; bring the nation together not by the sheer force of personality, but by the power and irresistibility of your ideas. Share with us your vision for the greatness of America — what she was, and what she can become.
— Kathryn Jean Lopez is editor-at-large of National Review Online.