Kansas skews blue with young voters

Obama beat McCain among 18- to 29-year-olds

? There is a 2008 electoral map where President-elect Barack Obama won Kansas.

It shows the election results if the contest between Obama and Republican John McCain was decided by 18- to 29-year-olds.

“From start to finish, Barack Obama made sure his campaign focused on the issues that matter most, such as jobs and the economy, health care and making college more affordable,” said Jenny Davidson, a Kansas Democratic Party spokeswoman.

McCain won Kansas, 57 percent to 41 percent. But according to exit poll analyses, Obama won the state’s 18- to 29-year-old vote, 51 percent to 49 percent.

The Millennial Generation — the first ones were turning 18 in 2000 — was a key to Obama’s historic presidential victory.

Obama won the youth vote in at least 38 states, including many that went for McCain, such as Kansas.

The vote of Millennials was crucial for Obama in winning states such as Indiana and North Carolina, where 18- to 29-year-olds were the only age demographic that he captured, according to exit poll surveys.

Should it concern Kansas Republicans that a generation of voters broke from the state’s GOP tradition?

Christian Morgan, executive director of the state Republican Party, said Obama’s lead among young voters in Kansas was slight and can be reversed.

“If I believed for a second that the youth vote went for Obama based on the issues I would be worried — but that isn’t the case,” Morgan said. “The youth vote went toward Obama, barely in Kansas, based off of the ‘coolness’ factor, not issues.”

He noted Obama’s youth — he is 47 — compared with McCain, who at 72 would have been the oldest president elected in history.

The Kansas Republican Party can claim success in an overwhelmingly national Democratic election that saw not only Obama’s win, but Democratic gains in the House in Senate.

But in Kansas, voters ousted Democratic U.S. Rep. Nancy Boyda in the 2nd congressional district, which includes west Lawrence, and Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts easily won re-election. In the Legislature, the GOP gained one state Senate seat and lost one House seat.

Sarah Burris, a Kansas University graduate and youth strategist for Future Majority, said both parties should focus on winning young voters.

“As a strategist, if the Democrats are trying to re-invent themselves in Kansas, I highly suggest bringing in those young people. Because, if they’ll vote for Obama at the top, then it stands to reason they’d vote for people down ticket who seek their votes,” she said.

On the Republican side, she said, GOP primary candidates such as Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul were successful in reaching out to young voters.

She said, the GOP should be “continuing their leadership programs they had a few years ago and reaching out to Ron Paul supporters who are more likely to turn to more conservative third party candidates.”