St. Louis Oracle

St. Louis-based political forecasting plus commentary on politics and events from a grassroots veteran with a mature, progressive anti-establishment perspective.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Kerry's young voters turned off by McCaskill

One of the factors that will make John Kerry president is his appeal to voters under 35. Okay, maybe it's more young voters' dislike for President Bush than Kerry's own appeal, but either way, the highest percentage turnout of young voters since 1972 will cast most of their votes for Kerry.

But these young voters' impact on the rest of the Democratic ticket may be "Blunted." It won't be so much the appeal of fellow thirty-something Matt Blunt in the governor's race; it will be more resentment at the campaign of Blunt's Democratic opponent Claire McCaskill.

McCaskill's primary campaign theme has been to stress her experience while belittling the experience of Republican Blunt. Television ads by McCaskill and the Missouri Democratic Party have made a point of emphasizing Blunt's age, 33, and making light of his six years in elective office. (We can almost hear Democratic Secretary of State nominee Robin Carnahan, who has never served in elective office, shouting for McCaskill to shut up already!) The highlight is the "silver bullet" attack ad hypothesizing a Matt Blunt job interview for governor with a judgmental, condescending interviewer.

McCaskill's strategy is playing well with her own age group. The latest Missouri Survey USA poll released October 19 shows that McCaskill has taken a 48%-45% lead over Blunt in McCaskill's 50-64 age group. Just two weeks earlier, those voters had favored Blunt by a 49%-44% margin.

But the strategy strikes a sour chord with the 18-34 age group that the presidential race will draw to the polls in record numbers. The same Survey USA polls now show Blunt surging to a 50%-44% lead among young voters. The job interview ad was getting lots of air time when the poll was taken. McCaskill had held a 49%-41% lead in the 18-34 age group just two weeks earlier.

Why? Many twenty- and thirty-somethings find themselves in a workplace with similarly condescending older superiors who don't fully appreciate these younger workers' talents or accomplishments. Many believe they are smarter and more effective than the "dead wood" supervisors who put them down. McCaskill's campaign reminds them of these thorns in their sides, and leads them to identify with Blunt.

Meanwhile, polls show Republican Senator Kit Bond doing very well in his race for re-election, and that could add an ironic twist to McCaskill's youth-bashing. Republicans would be smart to point out that the popular Bond was elected governor when he was even younger than Blunt is today. This could chip away at the 20% of Bond's voters that Survey USA says is currently splitting over to McCaskill.


Blogger Steve in St. Lou said...

You are 'right on' again! In the McKaskill campaign's efforts to portray her as the mature, experienced candidate, they alienate young voters. I also think the campaign is trying to define Matt Blunt as 'Matt Blunt' -- not Daddy Roy Blunt! I think Matt got elected Secretary of State on his name alone (He truly didn't have much of a record to run on in 2000...).

Yes, Matt is 33 years old, but there are BIG differences in Matt Blunt 2004 and Kit Bond circa 1972. Bond ran as a 'Moderate/Progressive Republican' in 1972 -- something we haven't seen in Missouri since Jack Danforth!

Trivia Quiz: For 25 points, name Kit Bond's speechwriter/communications guru from his first term as Missouri Governor?

Give up? It was Ray Hartmann, founder of the progressive Riverfront Times weekly newspaper in St. Louis.

I think the McKaskill campaign would do better by portraying Matt Blunt as what he is -- a mouthpiece for the extreme 'right wing' of the Missouri Republican Party. This includes 'Daddy Roy,' Ashcroft, Hanaway, Kinder, and others... If Missourians elect Matt Blunt, there will be nothing in the way of their 'anything for the Missouri Chamber & Associated Industries' agenda and nothing for the 'little people' of the state. Look for drastic cuts in social services and medical care programs for Missouri's most vulnerable citizens and beau coup tax breaks and other goodies for the most privliged.

Hopefully, young voters will see through the baloney, and, along with 'seasoned voters' will elect Claire the next Governor of Missouri.

October 21, 2004 at 2:43 PM  
Blogger Eric said...

I'm one of those 30-somethings you talk about, and I'm not at all offended by the interview ad. I never even thought out it until reading your post. Considering the importance of this elected office, I think it's very appropriate to talk about the candidates' qualifications and experience.

Perhaps part of drop was a nasty Blunt ad that is runnning here in KC. It says that McCaskill supports taxes and policies that are sending doctors and businesses over to Kansas, and that Claire should be running for governor of Kansas, not Missouri.

As for 20/30-somethings, I don't think either candidate is addressing issues important to us. They are totally focused on the rural and suburban areas. At least here in KC, there is a huge migration of young people back to Downtown and other urban core neighborhoods. But neither candidate is talking about the "Creative Class" issues like downtown redevelopment, public transportation, support for arts and culture, aging urban infrastructure, bringing businesses back into the city from the suburbs, etc.

If the candidates really wanted to court the young vote, they follow us to where we live and the issues we care about. On this side of the state, that is increasingly in the urban core.

October 25, 2004 at 6:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Right on. The candidates are focused on rural and suburban voters, yet most economists are saying that metro areas are the future of our economy. The St. Louis metro population is stagnant. Some suburbs are growing, but their just poaching other parts of the region, not adding new residents to the metro. The KC metro is growing pretty fast, but still has many of the same problems in attracting the creative class.

October 25, 2004 at 1:11 PM  

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