Culture Wars May Weaken Youth Support For Republicans

Colleen Wilson has all the makings of a foot soldier for whichever Republican becomes the nominee to oppose President Barack Obama in the November election.

The Virginia college student comes from a conservative family and describes herself as a Republican. She is an intern at the county Republican committee and paid her own way to attend the prominent Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington this month.

Her support should be a given for a Republican in Virginia, one of the closely contested "swing states" where the 2012 presidential election will likely be decided.

But it's not.

"I may vote for Obama," said Wilson, who is 19. "It's possible. I can't say now, but I'm not ruling it out."

Some Republicans said the party's moral tone could even revitalize support for the Democrats.

"If it's perceived as telling people what to do, then Republicans could awaken a sleeping giant that could significantly boost President Obama's re-election chances," said Ford O'Connell, a Republican strategist.

"They're walking a very tight rope right now."

Obama's approval rating among 18- to 29-year olds had slipped since 2009, but has been rising again. It hit 60 percent this month in Gallup's tracking poll.

Read more from Patricia Zengerle at Reuters

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published this page in In The News 2012-02-24 14:30:00 -0500
Analysis & Political Strategy