Just as Mitt Romney’s challenge last week at the Republican National Convention was to connect on a personal level with voters and make them comfortable with the idea of him sitting in the Oval Office, President Obama’s challenge this week at the Democratic National Convention is to reignite the flame—the passion among young and Latino voters that burned four years ago but is now just a smoldering ember.
Three demographic groups turbocharged Obama’s 7-percentage-point victory over John McCain in 2008: young voters ages 18-29, Latinos, and African-Americans. Their influx changed the composition of the electorate that year, making it look quite different from the makeup of voters in 2000 and 2004. Whether the 2012 electorate looks more like 2008—or 2004, or 2000—is a very big deal for both Obama and Romney.
Among the 9,659 registered voters interviewed by the Gallup Organization’s tracking polls Aug. 6-26, Romney and Obama were tied overall at 46 percent. But Obama beat Romney by 24 points, 58 percent to 34 percent, among voters ages 18-29 and by a whopping 32 points, 61 percent to 29 percent, among Latinos. In each case, the percentage who say they will definitely vote is significantly lower than it is among other demographic groups who view Obama less charitably.