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Saturday, September 18, 2004

Iraq and the Youth Vote

I've been saying that Iraq is the #1 issue in this campaign and Harvard's Vanishing Voter Project just completed a survey that demonstrates this. Yesterday, the Project issued its latest press release:
In the Vanishing Voter Project’s national survey of September 8-12, Americans were almost evenly divided when asked whether Iraq or the economy “is of greater concern to you.” Forty-three percent said they were more concerned with Iraq while 37 percent said that the economy was of greater concern.

However, there was a significant difference between the two issue groups in their level of campaign involvement. Among those identifying Iraq as their major concern, 75 percent indicated they have been paying relatively close attention to the campaign. Among those for whom the economy was the larger issue, 65 percent said they were paying close attention. Americans concerned with Iraq were also more likely to indicate they “had discussed the campaign” recently. Fifty percent of the Iraq group reported a campaign-related conversation within the past day, compared with 43 percent of those who said the economy was the more important issue.
Perhaps most interesting, and tied to the cell phone point I made yesterday, younger voters are very interested in Iraq:
Young adults have been particularly responsive to the Iraq issue. Among adults who are 30 years of age or younger, 72 percent of those for whom Iraq is the top issue say they have been paying relatively close attention to the campaign, as compared with 48 percent of those who say the economy is the leading issue. Among older adults, the level of campaign attention is nearly the same among the two issue groups.

Young adults’ election involvement is perhaps higher in 2004 than in any presidential election since 1972.
By one measure, the survey found that younger voters are about twice as interested in this election as they were in the 2000 race.

The Vanishing Voter Project is particularly interested in turnout. In 1972, half of young adults voted; in 2000, it was about 30%.

Hmmm, I wonder what would happen in 2004 if young adult turnout increased by two-thirds? And I wonder how the current polls are doing -- reporting about "likely voters" based on past turnout, hypothetical increases in Republican Party affiliation, and dialing only land lines?

One final question: Do you suppose young adults have noticed that they're demographic is being asked to do most of the dying in Bush's "war on terror?"

Based on the fact that I teach US Foreign Policy to over 80 young adults, I know they have heard the whispers about reinstituting the draft.

I can think of a good question for the President in the fall debates:
"There will be no draft when John Kerry is president," the North Carolina senator vowed, raising the question of whether there would be a draft if Bush remains in the White House.
If this is too subtle:
“America will reinstate the military draft” if Bush is re-elected and continues the Iraq War, [former Senator Max] Cleland predicted, according to an account of his speech by the Colorado Springs Gazette.

"Pay attention ... to what you've got going on in Iraq. That, ladies and gentlemen, is Vietnam. I've seen this movie before. I know how it ends. It does not end pleasantly," he added. Cleland has been in a wheelchair since 1968 when he lost both legs and one arm in a grenade accident in Vietnam.

Former Kerry rival Howard Dean, now traveling the country to drum up support for Kerry and raise money for Democratic candidates, said last week at Brown University in Providence, R.I., "I think that George Bush is certainly going to have a draft if he goes into a second term, and any young person that doesn't want to go to Iraq might think twice about voting for him."
The MSNBC story which reported these quotes also noted that the Army National guard didn't meet recruitment goals in 14 of 20 months from October 2002 through May 2004. It was nearly 8000 soldiers short as of the end of FY 2003.

In fairness, note that President Bush and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld have said they oppose a draft. They both say the US doesn't "need" a draft.

Psssst, debate moderator: Better phrase the question in a way that makes the President consider the very strong possibility that recruiting goals won't be met even with pay and benefit increases.

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