Featured Research


March 27, 2012

As part of our Target Voter Series, Resurgent Republic sponsored four focus groups among Generation-Y voters ages 23 to 30 in Raleigh, North Carolina and Columbus, Ohio. Following are key highlights pertaining to their concerns over the direction our country is headed.

Read the full Report: The Disillusioned Obama Young Voter

  1. These young voters were decidedly unhappy with the direction of the country. The perception that the country is headed on the “wrong track” is palpable among 23-to-30 year old voters, who used descriptors like “troubled,” “on the decline,” and “taking on water.” A small number of respondents felt slightly more positive, but overall both groups were disheartened with the direction of the country, a stark contrast from where they thought the country would be today when compared to four years ago.

  2. These voters were disillusioned with President Obama, and the discussion of “hope” and “change” triggered a cynical reaction. Their personal affinity for Obama combined with the credit they give him for trying are not enough to outweigh the disappointment they expressed. As one North Carolina voter said, President Obama “promised the moon and could not even deliver the upper atmosphere.” Another Raleigh voter lamented, “We expected a lot more.” The respondents in Columbus were somewhat less intense in their feedback, but still disappointed. One Buckeye State young voter offered a caveat that “there was so much hype it was impossible to live up to those standards.”

    Young voters, a group predominately inspired by the mantra of “hope” and “change” in 2008, now view it as empty words. These focus groups reinforced the notion that “hope” and “change” meant a variety of different things to voters. It allowed people to perceive this Obama message to be whatever they personally decided. As a result, “hope” and “change” brought together coalitions of voters bonded by language that did not have a uniform meaning, setting up voters for a variety of letdowns. A cynicism now exists in how these young voters evaluate “inspirational” political rhetoric, regardless of the partisan label.

  3. Despite both groups’ disillusionment with President Obama, Ohio voters were less likely to blame him. The Raleigh respondents reported dissatisfaction with the performance of President Obama. One participant noted the President “talks a good game,” but has failed to live up to the expectations he set for himself. The Columbus respondents were prone to search for excuses in regard to the President’s job performance. Several suggested that perhaps President Obama was “naïve” in regard to the difficulties of working with Congress. Additionally, the Columbus voters suggested President Obama perhaps “needs more time,” “although not a lot has been accomplished, he did enter the presidency with a lot of ‘hopeful’ ideas.”

  4. Burned by “hope” and “change,” these young voters need to see tangible results, or believe there’s a substantive vision moving forward, to be re-energized come November. The discontent with the direction of the country and the economy ran deep in all four groups. These former “hope” and “change” voters feel let down by the failure of this Administration to meet the promises they perceived these words to mean. Because of their cognitive dissonance, President Obama is mentioned in the same conversation as “business as usual” politicians, a feeling completely foreign to what they perceived in 2008. These voters are both disillusioned with the typical practices of Washington, and are intent in their desire for a candidate who presents a solid plan backed with substantive change.

Read the full Report: The Disillusioned Obama Young Voter

Filed under: President Obama, 2012 Election, and Focus Group