The Daily Beast is one of those media outlets — and there are quite a few of them — that is frequently held up as some sort of apex in American political analysis that all serious people read for the latest whiffs of news and insight emanating from that vast stinkhole we call Washington D.C.
The problem is, its writers are largely centrist hacks, such as Howard Kurtz, Andrew Sullivan, and David Frum, who are overly enamored with cosmetic issues, like whether or not Candidate X’s strategy will resound with (insert demographic here), and whether obtaining the vote of said demographic will be enough to propel Candidate X to (re)election. If you like political scorekeeping, you’ll love The Daily Beast; but if you’re looking for commentary that transcends our embarrassingly narrow mainstream political spectrum, you should explore other options.
But even when such sites engage in their favorite kind of analysis, they frequently fail the laugh test. In a Daily Beast piece titled "Has the President Lost His Obama Generation? College Students Crowd CPAC," written by former Bush and McCain campaign advisor Mark McKinnon, we are apprised of a potential “awakening of a generation lost” as increasing numbers of millennials supposedly seek political refuge in what is called “conservatism.”
McKinnon observes that nearly half of this year’s CPAC crowd was comprised of college students, as if attendance at an event that featured a panel held by white supremacists and an enthusiastic welcome for the nationally unpopular Sarah Palin is somehow indicative of a relevant trend. It isn't. He notes that 66% of millennials voted for Barack Obama in 2008, and he correctly says that these Americans are increasingly pessimistic about the direction of the country and Obama’s reelection prospects.
Then comes McKinnon’s headshot. He points to a Generation Opportunity poll indicating that millennials are totally on board with the GOP’s plan to cut spending instead of raising taxes on those godlike Galtian job creators. The statistics are impressive, until you realize that the "non-partisan" Generation Opportunity is actually a Republican front group. They are impressive until you recall a Pew poll showing that Americans 18-29 have a slightly more favorable view of socialism than capitalism. And they are impressive until you remember that even though millennials aren’t as excited about voting for Obama in 2012 as they were in 2008, every reputable poll indicates that Obama has virtually no chance of losing the millennial vote to whatever supply-side corporatist the GOP nominates. Indeed, missing from McKinnon’s piece is any discussion of how the Republican candidates would fare against Obama in a head-to-head match-up. And it’s a good thing, because the data torpedoes McKinnon’s entire premise. Obama enjoys 61% support among millennials in a head-to-head against GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney. It’s not quite the 66% he had in 2008, but still an electoral ass-kicking by any measure.
This is not an endorsement of Obama, but a simple straightforward analysis of political reality. Millennials have every right to be down on the president, especially considering the 17% unemployment rate among people under 24. However, there are some indications that the source of this disillusionment is not a reaction to big government overreach on the part of the administration, but rather a general dissatisfaction that the president has not been proactive enough in attempting to get the economy moving again. The reluctance of younger voters to flock the Republican Party in signficant numbers shows that at the very least, the message of Obama and the Democratic Party still resonates with them.
Photo Credit: New Mexico Independent Pics