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Top 3 Things to Know About Young Voters and the 2012 Election

Young Americans showed an historic 11-point swing away from President Obama, only demographic to distance itself from the President at that level

Millennials demonstrate shift in views on solutions to unemployment and the bad economy, favoring lower taxes and less government involvement

WASHINGTON, Nov. 15, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Generation Opportunity, the nation's largest social media and grassroots organization reaching out to young Americans ages 18-29, is releasing data and analysis on young voters and the 2012 election. Generation Opportunity has built a fan base of over 4 million on Facebook and has been in front of hundreds of thousands of young adults through direct contact at the grassroots level, raising awareness of and fostering a discussion on critical economic issues including overall and young adult unemployment, debt, and federal spending.


1.  There was a stunning 11-point swing in the young adult vote in the 2012 Presidential Election.

In 2008, then-Senator Barack Obama won 18-29 year olds by 34 points (66%-32%). This year, President Obama won 18-29 year olds by 23 points (60%-37%). The youth vote swung 11 points away from President Obama, more than twice any other age demographic. No other demographic showed movement anywhere near this: 30-44 showed +1% point increase in support for Obama from 2008; 45-64 showed -5% decrease in support for Obama since 2008; and 65+ showed -4% decrease in support for Obama since 2008.

2.  President Obama is witnessing a fracturing of what was once considered his unshakable base of support among young voters.

2012 saw the largest drop in support from the 18-29 demographic for any incumbent President who won re-election in history. Underneath these numbers, young Americans are fundamentally reshaping how they think about issues like unemployment, job creation, taxes, and regulation. The fact that young Americans will represent 38% of the electorate by 2020 makes this all the more relevant.

3.  Contrary to conventional wisdom, young adult turnout actually increased from the 2008 level.

The conventional wisdom, which was advanced and shared by numerous news outlets and grassroots organizations, including the AP, Pew, and Huffington Post, was that young people would A) decrease in turnout compared to 2008 levels, and B) vote in just as strong of a margin for President Obama in 2012 as they did 2008. Yet, young adult turnout actually increased (from 18% to 19%) and swung 11 points away from President Obama.

Generation Opportunity was heavily involved in reshaping both the terrain and the national dialogue with regard to the young adult vote going into the 2012 election. 

Beginning in June of 2011, Generation Opportunity took to the national stage as the largest national grassroots organization focused on young Americans that presented a clear alternative to the mantra of bigger government and increased federal spending. Generation Opportunity gave a voice to the millions of young Americans who were dissatisfied by the status quo of high unemployment and a lack of meaningful, full-time jobs and were searching for an alternative.

The organization utilized an integrated strategy that combined online targeted social media, targeted field activities, and earned media to educate and, ultimately, mobilize young Americans 18-29 year olds. Young adults were strongly encouraged to make their voices heard for real change. 

Generation Opportunity built a variety of targeted Facebook platforms which attracted a fan base of over 4 million Millennials, garnering over 1.1 billion views and over 9 million online interactions via likes, comments, and shares of sourced information on issues like youth unemployment and the impacts of increased federal spending and debt.

Generation Opportunity field organizers engaged, in person, over 250,000 young adults at over 600 targeted events nationwide. Major events included the League of Latin American Citizens (LULAC) annual convention, American Student Government Association leadership conference, the National Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and over 500 state, county, and community events, such as Earth Day festivals, concerts, sporting events, farmers markets, and various cultural festivals. Generation Opportunity's grassroots field team organized young people in North Carolina, Missouri, Massachusetts, Virginia, Maine, Florida, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, California, New Jersey, and Nevada, among others.

The organization also utilized a variety of online and grassroots tools and tactics to attract tens of thousands of young Americans to the electoral process, register new voters across the country, and train thousands of activists to make their voices heard in advance of the 2012 election through a variety of ways, including letters to the editor, town halls, and radio programs.

For 2013 and 2014, Generation Opportunity will be further expanding its reach and following among young adults across the nation through social media and grassroots activity. The organization will be executing an even more aggressive effort to fully engage young Americans at both the state and national level.

Statement from Generation Opportunity President Paul T. Conway

"President Obama saw the highest defection rate from his margin of support in 2008 of any age group among young Americans 18-29, who swung away from him by a stunning 11 percentage points.

"Underneath these numbers, young Americans are truly reshaping how they think about issues like unemployment, job creation, taxes, and regulation. Young people increasingly view the economic policies coming out of Washington through the lens of unemployment, as they, their friends, and their family members are experiencing the highest sustained level of unemployment since World War II. The fact that young Americans will represent 38% of the electorate by 2020 makes this all the more relevant.

"In the days ahead, it will be important for President Obama to remember that young Americans want meaningful, full-time jobs in their career paths of choice and are increasingly looking for less government involvement in their daily lives. They have given the President another opportunity to fulfill his promises, to match his actions to his rhetoric, and to demonstrate an ability to achieve results in these areas. Over the next days and years, young Americans will watch carefully to see if the President honors his commitments, and, if he fails to do so, they will continue to work with organizations like Generation Opportunity to hold him and his allies in Congress accountable.

"For future campaigns, the results of the 2012 presidential election further demonstrate, yet again, that to succeed in garnering the support of young Americans, they must engage them fully in social media and must embrace the technologies that young Americans utilize to inform their opinions. More importantly, campaigns need to demonstrate that they respect the intelligence and influence of young Americans and provide them the content necessary for individuals to reach their own conclusions."


Generation Opportunity is the largest non-profit, non-partisan 501 (c)(4) organization in the United States engaging and mobilizing young Americans (ages 18-29) on important economic issues, such as high young adult unemployment and the lack of meaningful, full-time jobs, facing the nation. Generation Opportunity seeks to engage everyone from young adults, to early career professionals, college students, young mothers and fathers, construction workers, current service men and women, veterans, entrepreneurs, and all Americans who find themselves dissatisfied with the status quo and willing to create a better tomorrow. Since its launch in June of 2011, Generation Opportunity has operated on a combined strategy of advanced social media tactics and field tactics to reach young Americans across the country.

Generation Opportunity is actively organizing young adults across America through grassroots tactics, voter registration, and voter turnout efforts, engaging over a quarter million young adults directly in the field. The organization's social media platforms have amassed a total fan base of more than 4 million. Facebook pages post links to relevant articles and reports from sources ranging from the federal Government Accountability Office (GAO), to The New York TimesThe Washington Post, The Brookings Institution, The Wall Street JournalThe Huffington Post, and The Heritage Foundation.

Read about Generation Opportunity here; visit "Being American by GO" on Facebook here, "The Constitution by GO" on Facebook here"Gas Prices Are Too Damn High" on Facebook here"Lower Taxes by GO" on Facebook here"Keep Texas Awesome" on Facebook here"Jersey Proud" on Facebook here, and "We Like Small Government" on Facebook here.

For our Spanish-language page – Generacion Oportunidad – click here.

Follow us on Twitter @GenOpportunity.

Matthew Faraci – 202-997-1636 |
David Pasch – 202-230-7947 |

SOURCE Generation Opportunity

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