DebateChats 2000: William Baldwin on the Youth Vote

I think they care, definitely. They recognize that young people, in terms of numbers, do make up a great portion of the population. But they aren't investing the level of resources that they invest in, for example, the AARP voter, the retired or older voter, because they don't feel that they can rely on young people to turn out at the polls. Strategically, young people aren't reliable. So, no, they're not doing all they can.

ABCNEWS’ Jim Sciutto at 2:24pm ET

William, any thoughts?

William Baldwin at 2:26pm ET

Clearly, I think they obviously care. I think all politicians want the 18-25 demographic to embrace democracy and participate through voting. I think it has a tendency to make Republicans more nervous than Democrats, because historically that demographic has voted more in favor of the Democratic Party. I remember when Patrick Lippert was executive director of Rock the Vote; I worked with him on trying to pass the "Motor-Voter" legislation, and there was much more resistance on the Republican side of the aisle, because if you made registration and voter participation more accessible and more convenient for the 18-25 demographic, it was going to hurt the Republicans at the polls more than Democrats. So, publicly, they're both going to acknowledge they want young people to participate in this great experiment. But privately, I think there's more interest on the Democratic side of the aisle.

ABCNEWS’ Jim Sciutto at 2:27pm ET

A recent ABC News poll showed that 18 to 30-year-olds went 50 percent for Bush and 47 percent for Gore. Among all voters it was 47 to 47. Does that surprise you at all?

Alison Byrne Fields at 2:27pm ET

No. In terms of 18 to 24 year-olds, on a very broad generalization, they are potentially more socially liberal, but they are fiscally conservative.

William Baldwin at 2:27pm ET

Is that in the last five years, that trend to be more socially liberal but more fiscally conservative? That sounds new to me.

Alison Byrne Fields at 2:27pm ET

Yes. Since I've been here for two years, it's sort of a development.

William Baldwin at 2:28pm ET

That's interesting to me. My experience, with my generation, has been that a lot of 18 to 25 year-olds are so much more socially progressive that they would identify themselves more with the Democratic Party than with the Republican Party. And then when they get taxed on their first paycheck, there's a marked tendency to drop off the Democratic Party rolls.

Alison Byrne Fields at 2:29pm ET

There was a survey that was done by Project Vote Smart that said that the number one concern for the generation was jobs, wages, and the economy. They have a lower median income and they are being told that Social Security will not exist for them, so financially they are concerned. And they are being told that their generation is making millions, so they think everybody else but them is doing well.

IanJ at 2:30pm ET

Do you believe that somewhat less "serious" issues, such as Napster or the recent hearings on violence in entertainment, could potentially perk youth interest in the political process?

William Baldwin at 2:31pm ET

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