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Young Voters Split for the Moment

Rosalind Helderman

Does Creigh Deeds have a problem motivating voters in the Democratic base? It's one reason many have proposed for why his poll numbers are not looking so hot two months before Election Day. And given that conversation, this is an interesting figure to contemplate from The Washington Post's first poll of the race:

Deeds and Republican Bob McDonnell are running about even with voters ages 18 to 34, with Deeds at 44 percent and McDonnell at 42 percent.

That's an age group that got particularly excited about President Obama last year. If Deeds is to pull a come-from-behind victory in November, he will probably need to find a way to wow younger voters far more than he has so far.

But Deeds might take comfort in some historical perspective.

In 2005, Post polling found voters ages 18 to 34 giving Republican Jerry Kilgore a narrow lead in September, throwing their support to him 43 to 39. By October, a Post poll of likely voters showed that young voters had shifted considerably, backing Gov. Tim Kaine 51 to 37. And four years earlier, Mark Warner had a big early lead among young voters that evaporated in later polling, despite his electoral victory.

Deeds might also be interested in knowing that young voters seem to be paying even less attention to the race so far than the rest of a fairly tuned-out electorate. According to the poll, just 26 percent of voters ages 18 to 34 say they are following the race very or somewhat closely. Three-quarters say they're not following it too closely or at all.

Can Deeds find a way to reach out to young voters, make them pay attention and bring them on board? One of many issues to watch in coming days.

-- With polling analyst Jennifer Agiesta

By Rosalind Helderman  |  August 21, 2009; 10:00 AM ET
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Creigh Deeds , Election 2009 , Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman  
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Comments

Creigh Deeds just doesn't sound like a cool name for Gen X to get excited about. Bob McDonnell is also as blend as scrambled eggs but between the two I think Bob's big family of young early twenties kids means he can relate to us better.

Posted by: letsfroggy1 | August 22, 2009 3:42 PM | Report abuse

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