Folks are still crunching the numbers coming out of Gov. Scott Walker's victory in Tuesday's Wisconsin recall, which is only producing more bad news for President Barack Obama.
In its aftermath the race is shaping up as a proxy for the president's potential performance against his likely opponent in the November 2012 election, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Wisconsin is critical to both campaigns, with Obama unlikely to be able to win without it and Romney much more easily able to reach the "magic number" of 270 electoral votes if he carries it.
What the president will be able to do depends in large part on how much of his winning coalition he can reassemble later this year. It's not looking good, especially among the younger voters who were such an important part of Obama's 2008 victory.
According to Crossroads Generation, a group dedicated to reaching young people with the messages promoting individual liberty, limited government, and free enterprise, in the recall election Walker carried the vote of those under the age of 25.
"According to exit polling," the group said, "for voters aged 18-29, the Democrats' advantage among this group was cut in half compared to 2010. While Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett held a ten-point advantage among 18-29 year olds in the 2010 election, that gap was reduced to five points in Tuesday's election."
Younger voters were a significant presence in Tuesday's election. Voters under the age of 30, Crossroads Generation said, made up 16 percent of all voters in the recall election, a higher proportion than in the 2010 gubernatorial election.
"Wisconsin is a state where young voters make a big difference," said Crossroads' Kristen Soltis, who see the results as predictive for the fall. "When an election is focused on the economy and fiscal responsibility, my generation is ready to support candidates with plans for getting us back on track," she said.
If Obama is having trouble attracting younger voters to his coalition, as the results from Wisconsin suggest may be the case, then it will be just that much harder for him to go on to victory in the presidential race. The White House is hoping for a "base election," one in which each party turns out as many of its most stalwart supporters as it can while independents, moderates, and occasional voters stay home, as was the case in George W. Bush's victory over Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry in 2004. Romney, on the other hand, looks to be running a campaign that broadens the base, reaching out to everyone who is unhappy with the way the president has governed over the last four years, as Ronald Reagan did in 1980. At the moment anyway, it looks like more voters help Romney while fewer voters are the key Obama's re-election.