So it's been interesting during this electoral cycle to hear the Republican party and its mouthpieces going on about how many of their elusive voter demographics they're supposedly going to bag this time.
I won't lie, as a liberal late 20-something I have plenty of reasons to not be very happy with Obama-- there are social, military and foreign policy areas where he's made promises he hasn't kept, the economy still isn't very good, and perhaps most galling to the youth vote, has proven himself to be just as corruptible by the game of politics as anyone else.
So yes, young people, especially those still politically engaged, are definitely annoyed, which is where folks like JustNew Productions come in. The company, run by two quasi-recent college graduates, has gotten a lot of attention for a Gotye parody video focusing on the various ways Obama has disappointed them.
I watched the video and couldn't fault them for their opinions, in fact I share a lot of them. However what's curious about cases like the "Obama that I used to Know" video is how fundamentally Republicans seem to be misreading it.
In this clip, a Fox News lady tries to present the filmmakers not only as deeply dissatisfied but also a symptom of how youth voters are so fed up with Obama they're potentially ready to go run to join the Republicans. However if you look at the lyrics of their song (or watch the interview, where they seem bemused by the tone of the questions and framing by the news anchor), their big problem seems to be not only that Obama isn't doing enough to help them economically, but also that he hasn't lived up to the image he presented to young, mostly liberal voters. These kids are annoyed with Obama's hypocrisy about not closing Guantanamo and discomfited by the fact that he is simultaneously a Nobel Peace Prize winner and has been using predator drones for assassinations. They want to relax drug laws and enforcement, and seem to not be fans of Sarah Palin. They're mad about a lack of results in the economy, but also that Obama hasn't lived up to the foreign and domestic policy he promised them. That's a far cry from wanting to go over to the Republican party-- they don't want to elect Romney, they want Obama of 2012 to start acting like the Obama of 2008! The Republicans can't-- or won't-- comprehend that these kids, and many more like them, aren't disaffected moderates whose votes are "in play," they're pissed off liberals who want Democrats to start living up to the values they keep campaigning on.
Furthermore, by misreading people like the filmmakers, the Republicans are demonstrating that they don't seem to understand what makes people become Democrats. No matter how much the Republican party tries to rebrand itself, no matter how many open-minded college students claim that they don't care about social issues anymore and they want a big tent, when the rubber hits the road, the present-day GOP still has a social platform, and on many issues, it is in stark contrast to many young people's positions. Reporters have described Romney's pick of Ryan as "reframing" the election along ideological lines; the reality is that for people paying attention, it has always been about ideological lines-- specifically, red lines. No matter how much people may dislike behavior by members or leaders of their party, absent better choices, they will probably stick with them rather than vote for a person-- or a party-- who they disagree with even more. That's just human nature.
While young people may have economic opinions (and certainly are affected by economic policy, as they're discovering), my impression is that economic issues alone don't drive many people's votes-- young or old. It's the constellation of other issues, foreign, domestic, and social, that people have more emotional and visceral investment in. Unless the GOP becomes a radically different party within my lifetime, I am fairly confident that I will never vote for a Republican candidate-- because even if I agreed with them on certain issues, the social values of their party are so fundamentally opposed to my own that it would be a betrayal of my other principles to do so.
In my opinion, this same phenomenon can be applied to the Jewish vote. Republicans (especially Republican Jews) don't like to hear it, but long as a majority of American Jews still believe in liberal politics, especially on social issues, there's no way the Republicans will get the Jewish vote. That may change over time as shifting demographics alter the political landscape, but until most Jews are right-wing Orthodox, it's not going to happen.
Whether you attribute it to naiveté, personality, life experience, or something else, if people believe in liberal values, the fact that liberals aren't living up to their names isn't going to make them vote Republican. It may disappoint them enough that they stop voting entirely (which I suppose is a net win for the other side), but more likely they will hold their nose and cast their vote for what, in their mind, is the lesser of two evils-- like everyone else has been doing for a long time.
Pundits can argue and campaigns can spin all they want; if Republicans think frustrated liberals (not moderates) are going to come out and vote for Romney, they're the ones who are naive.