The New York Times' Latest Bogus Trend Story.

If you opened up your New York Times today, you would have seen this headline on the front page: "In a Shift, Fewer Younger Voters See Themselves As Democrats." More terrible news for the Dems! "There's a vibe," one college hunk says while pumping iron at the gym. "Right now it seems like Republicans just care a lot more than Democrats."

Wow -- I guess the nation's young people are abandoning the Democratic Party in droves. So how big has this swing been? Ten points? Twenty points? Let's amble on down to the 21st paragraph of the story:

Self-identification figures for Democrats — in national polls asking young people what party they lean more toward — peaked at 62 percent in July 2008, according to the Pew Research Center. By late last year, the number had dropped eight percentage points, to 54 percent, though researchers saw an uptick earlier this year, back to 57 percent. Republican gains roughly mirrored Democratic losses.

Well now. That doesn't seem so dramatic anymore, does it? In the heart of a presidential campaign in which the Democrat, a dynamic young candidate, would go on to whip the Republican, a crotchety old candidate, the proportion of young people identifying as Democrats peaked at 62 percent. And now, with the economy in the toilet, the president's approval ratings in the 40s, and Democrats facing huge losses in November, that number has plummeted all the way to ... 57 percent.

The Democrats do have a problem with young people, but it isn't that they've abandoned the party. The problem is that young people don't turn out in midterm elections, while old people do, and old people are much more heavily Republican. The Obama campaign registered and activated huge numbers of young people, but it will be a difficult task to get them to the polls in November. That is their youth problem.

--Paul Waldman

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