Kerry's young voters turned off by McCaskill
But these young voters' impact on the rest of the Democratic ticket may be "Blunted." It won't be so much the appeal of fellow thirty-something Matt Blunt in the governor's race; it will be more resentment at the campaign of Blunt's Democratic opponent Claire McCaskill.
McCaskill's primary campaign theme has been to stress her experience while belittling the experience of Republican Blunt. Television ads by McCaskill and the Missouri Democratic Party have made a point of emphasizing Blunt's age, 33, and making light of his six years in elective office. (We can almost hear Democratic Secretary of State nominee Robin Carnahan, who has never served in elective office, shouting for McCaskill to shut up already!) The highlight is the "silver bullet" attack ad hypothesizing a Matt Blunt job interview for governor with a judgmental, condescending interviewer.
McCaskill's strategy is playing well with her own age group. The latest Missouri Survey USA poll released October 19 shows that McCaskill has taken a 48%-45% lead over Blunt in McCaskill's 50-64 age group. Just two weeks earlier, those voters had favored Blunt by a 49%-44% margin.
But the strategy strikes a sour chord with the 18-34 age group that the presidential race will draw to the polls in record numbers. The same Survey USA polls now show Blunt surging to a 50%-44% lead among young voters. The job interview ad was getting lots of air time when the poll was taken. McCaskill had held a 49%-41% lead in the 18-34 age group just two weeks earlier.
Why? Many twenty- and thirty-somethings find themselves in a workplace with similarly condescending older superiors who don't fully appreciate these younger workers' talents or accomplishments. Many believe they are smarter and more effective than the "dead wood" supervisors who put them down. McCaskill's campaign reminds them of these thorns in their sides, and leads them to identify with Blunt.
Meanwhile, polls show Republican Senator Kit Bond doing very well in his race for re-election, and that could add an ironic twist to McCaskill's youth-bashing. Republicans would be smart to point out that the popular Bond was elected governor when he was even younger than Blunt is today. This could chip away at the 20% of Bond's voters that Survey USA says is currently splitting over to McCaskill.