Mitt Romney

Younger Voters Eclipsed Older Voters in 2016 Election

 The 2016 election marked a milepost as Millennials and Gen Xers cast more ballots than their older counterparts, which should signal new campaign and policy approaches to younger voters who are better educated, more secular and less reliable to cast ballots.

 The 2016 election marked a milepost as Millennials and Gen Xers cast more ballots than their older counterparts, which should signal new campaign and policy approaches to younger voters who are better educated, more secular and less reliable to cast ballots.

The 2016 general election will go down in history for a lot of things, including the first time Millennial and Gen X voters eclipsed older voters.

Based on an analysis of Census Bureau data conducted by Pew Research, 69.6 million Americans between the ages of 18 and 51 voted in the 2016 election. Baby Boomers and older generations cast 67.9 million ballots.

More young people become eligible to vote while older people die or emigrate. While the result isn’t surprising, it marks a milepost in US demography when younger, next-generation voters become a majority, which will influence how political campaigns are focused.

Conventional wisdom is that younger voters lean Democratic. Numbers bear that out, but also is a hint that a chunk of Millennials are more conservative than Gen X or Baby Boomers were at the same age. It also may be true, as evidenced by strong support among younger voters for the presidential candidacy of Bernie Sanders, that younger Democrats are more liberal than their older counterparts.

NPR’s Danielle Kurtzleben reports they may be even deeper polarization among Millennials than previous generations. If so, that could complicate any efforts to lower the volume on political discourse and exert more energy looking for common ground.

In addition to greater political polarization, Millennials overall have fewer religious ties and are better educated. They are less white and more Latino. There is also a question about their motivation to vote. Gen Xers and Millennials as age cohorts outgrew Boomers and older generations before 2016, but voter participation rates lagged behind. Pew found only half of Millennials voted in the 2016 election compared to two-thirds for older cohorts, which may have played a role in tipping the presidential election to Donald Trump.

What bears watching is how Millennials settle in as voters. Exit polls in the 2012 presidential election showed GOP challenger Mitt Romney beating President Obama by 2 percentage points among whites ages 18 to 29 with at least a four-year college degree. Four years later, Hillary Clinton beat Trump among college-educated white people by 15 percentage points. Trump scored well with young white voters who identified as evangelicals or lived in rural areas or states with large white majorities. Clinton’s large margin of votes from younger votes was canceled out when many Millennials lost interest after the presidential primaries or voted for third-party candidates.

The Final Poll, Before More Polls

Polling in this presidential contest has shown Barack Obama and Mitt Romney tied up more often than Houdini. 

Tuesday will bring the only poll that counts, and for many citizens not a moment too soon.

The zigzagging polls may have reflected the ups and downs of the Obama and Romney candidacies this fall. They also may have been hopeful interpretations of a margin of error or varying calculations of likely voters.

Whatever, in its final pre-election tracking poll, The Washington Post and ABC reported a slight 50-47 Obama lead over Romney, which could be the combined product of Romney's campaign peaking too soon and Hurricane Sandy thrusting President Obama into a national leadership role.

Nate Silver, who writes a blog for The New York Times about polls, suggested Obama heads into Tuesday with a "very modest lead."  But Silver noted that of the 12 national polls published over the weekend, three called the race dead even.

As the polls on the popular vote tightened in the last few weeks, attention turned with a vengeance to speculation over the Electoral College, which many today view as an Eighteenth Century relic and a 21st Century calamity-waiting-to-happen.

Pundits wondered endlessly about whether one candidate winning the popular vote and the other the necessary 270 electoral votes to claim the presidency — a vagary that has occurred before in American history. More angst was spilled on the prospect — which colored interactive maps illustrated — of the candidates winding up with an Electoral College tie, throwing the election to the GOP-controlled House.

What may be more useful to explore after the election is settled — Tuesday night, Wednesday or whenever — is how Americans wound up voting. We already have a clear picture of the stark divide between red and blue states, but what other schisms will the election bear out?

Pre-election polling indicates Obama enjoys stronger support from women than Romney, while the reverse is true for male voters. Obama does better with minorities; Romney does best with whites.

Business Leaders Predict Health Care Cost Hikes

An online survey conducted this week of 300 Oregon business decision makers found a majority had an unfavorable opinion of the federal Affordable Care Act, believing it will increase private health insurance premiums.

Despite that, almost 37 percent of the decision makers say their organization plans to maintain their existing private health insurance plans for employees and another 39 percent are adopting a wait-and-see attitude.

Federal health care insurance reform, referred to by critics as Obamacare, has been a mainstay issue in the presidential election that will wrap up November 6. President Barack Obama calls federal health reform essential to the economic security of the nation, while his GOP challenger Mitt Romney calls the act an unnecessary and costly intrusion into the national economy and people's lives.

One of the claims made in the presidential debate has been the effect of the Affordable Care Act on businesses that now provide health insurance to their employees. Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan asserted the act would lead businesses to drop coverage. Obama and his supporters insist nothing in the act forces businesses or their employees to change health plans.

CFM and Oregon Business posed a series of questions on October 23 and 24, 2012 to business leaders who subscribe to Oregon Business magazine and participate in its monthly business leader survey, Input. Only 9 percent of the 300 respondents said their business would drop current coverage and let employees shop for health insurance on their own. Even fewer — 4 percent — said they would limit employee hours so they didn't qualify for coverage and thus excuse the business from paying a penalty for not covering them.

Nearly half — 46 percent — said they disagreed with claims that a goal of the Affordable Care Act is to "move workers off of employer-provided health insurance plans."

Business dissatisfaction with federal health care reform seems tied to fears it will increase health care insurance premiums and costs for small businesses. Almost 63 percent of respondents said the Affordable Care Act would increase health care costs for small businesses.

Cashing in on the Presidential Campaign

For a nation inured to political polls, it is refreshing to measure who is winning by the popularity of Halloween masks, chicken wing sales and bleacher seat preferences.

Take, for example, the Spirit Halloween Mark Presidential Index, which shows Barack Obama masks outselling Mitt Romney masks by nearly 2 to 1. Spirit Halloween CEO Steven Silverstein claims the index, run in conjunction with Rock the Vote and based on sales at its 1,000 stores nationwide, "has proven to be a consistent and accurate predictor of the next president for nearly two decades."

Then there is the Luster Premium White Study of Presidential Teeth. The oral care company explains, perhaps with a smile, in a press release that its analysis of pictures dating back to 1982, including adjustment for "ambient lighting and environmental conditions," has determined who has the brightest teeth and will win the presidency. Bill Clinton outshone George H.W. Bush and Bob Dole. George W. Bush sported brighter enamel than Al Gore and John Kerry. Barring 11th-hour dental work, Obama has the gleam over Romney.

Boston Market offers customers a choice between right and left chicken wing bowls. 

California Tortilla is sponsoring a Burrito Bowl Election contest pitting an Obama chicken teriyaki luau against a Romney Mexican mitt-loaf. The teriyaki luau is leading the mitt-loaf 52-48 percent.

7-Eleven give its customers a choice between red or blue coffee cups to signify their political sympathies and posts running totals on its website. For the politically indifferent, there are "non-partisan cups." Obama's blue cup is outpacing Romney's red cup by a 60-40 percent margin. You also can view local results. Obama leads Romney in Portland 64-36 percent, but Romney holds sway in Reedsport and Woodburn by 53-47 percent.

The Stockton Ports minor league baseball team staged a July 4 promotion involving bleacher cushions with Obama's face on one side and Romney's on the other. Fans were instructed to sit on the side they wanted to lose, then tweet their preference on either #SitonMitt or #BunsonObama. The team didn't report its findings, but did have a great firework show.

Measuring Pints Good Way to Measure Minds

Don’t sweat the Smuttynose vote. Win or lose the Republican primary vote in New Hampshire today, MItt Romney can say he swept the CNN barstool survey this weekend. Not bad for a non-alcohol drinking Mormon in a state that loves its beer.

The former Massachusetts governor held a commanding lead in CNN’s highly informal and non-scientific “average person in the pub" survey.

Close on Romney's heels, Texas Congressman Ron Paul appeared to pull in the vote of fans of Shipyard Brewing of Portland, Maine, while former House Speaker Newt Gingrich saw support from Coors Light and Dos Equis enthusiasts.

For those who say “Make mine a Smutty,” few advocates of Smuttynose Brewing of Portsmouth, N.H. let their voices be counted. (Smuttynose is named after a small island in the Isles of Shoals off the boundary between Maine and New Hampshire.)

Romney collected most of the fans of Sam Adams (of Boston), but former ambassador Jon Huntsman had at least one vote from a devotee of Sam Adams’ chocolate cherry bock.

The barstool nose count offers a fresh perspective on research. Just wait for the Oregon primary. There will be fewer candidates but more brews to cover. Bottoms up!