The Washington Post’s Dan Balz waxes poetic on the youth vote problems the GOP faces.

Obama’s strength among young voters was a staple of coverage throughout his bid for the White House, although as Keeter pointed out, he could have won in November without the votes of anyone younger than 30. But his margin was the biggest in several decades and that alone should worry Republicans.

Obama may appeal to younger voters, but their shift toward the Democrats predates his candidacy. “This really is not Obama,” Keeter said. “Young voters were John Kerry’s best age group. They were the Democratic candidates’ best age group in the 2006 elections, and they were the best age group for other Democratic candidates in 2008.”

Younger voters are more diverse demographically than older voters. In 2008, 62 percent were white, compared with 74 percent eight years earlier. Projections show young voters will become increasingly diverse. They are also less religious and more culturally liberal, two indicators of Democratic support.

GOP strategist Mike Murphy described this in Time magazine as a coming Republican ice age. Republicans will need a major shift to begin to reverse these trends. That could start if there is a backlash against Obama’s governance — and the president’s agenda certainly will test the country’s tolerance for a big dose of government. But Republicans will need to retool in other ways to make themselves more appealing to a changing population. That debate has barely begun.

This is the message we’ve been waiting to see from traditional media sources, as many political observers fail to dig deeper and observe the longer political trends of today’s youth. At Future Majority, the primary site for progressive youth analysis, they’ve hammered home the message that this Democratic wave among young people is not due to Obama’s popularity. Yes, Obama’s approach has pushed things along, but since the oldest Millennials have come of age, we’ve always seen a clear preference toward the Democratic vision of government.

But more importantly, the Post follows this observation up with another, more vexing one for the Republican Party: it’ll need to do more than hope for Obama to fail in order to steal a significant portion of the youth vote. If Millennials preferred the Democratic Party before Obama became the standard-bearer, then the Republicans have a problem larger than Obama that they need to seriously examine.

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