Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared at Forbes.com.
According to a recent USA Today/Gallup poll, Americans under the age of 30 favor President Barack Obama over Mitt Romney by almost a two-to-one margin. This is a startling statistic. What explains the lopsided support for President Obama among younger Americans?
I think the two main reasons are ideological and personal.
It’s no revelation to say that young people tend to be more liberal about issues like the redistribution of wealth. You may have heard the old adage, “Anyone who is not a socialist when he is 20, has no heart; anyone who is still a socialist when he is 30, has no mind.” I lived that adage. I was a young socialist 40 years ago who voted for the likable-but-too-conservative George McGovern. Then, after emerging from the collegiate cocoon, weaning myself from financial dependency on others, and seeing the real-world devastation wrought by socialism, I embraced capitalism.
The fact of the matter is that our intellect develops more slowly than our feelings. In my case, my youthful concern for the poor never left me. I simply recognized that free markets, however imperfect, are far more effective at reducing poverty than government programs and socialist dystopias. Likewise, today’s youth generally have good intentions; they just don’t always perceive the optimal means to attain their goals. When you combine that intellectual immaturity with the barrage of leftist indoctrination that many colleges inflict on them—plus their support of certain Obama social policies—it is no wonder that the under-30 segment of our population favors President Obama.