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President Obama greets students after speaking at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor on Jan 27. Young Republicans say they see an opportunity in 2012 to dent Obama's popularity among the youngest voters. (AFP/Getty Images)

Young Republicans Gather In Washington — And Eye An Opportunity In November

by Padmananda Rama
Feb 9, 2012

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As the annual Conservative Political Action Conference began Thursday in the nation's capital, NPR's Michel Martin spoke to young Republicans who explained how they hope this year to change the dynamics from 2008, when young voters flocked to Barack Obama.

Their strategy? Focus on the economy.

"In the last 36 months, the policies of this administration have disproportionately affected our demographic greater than any other group out there," College Republican Committee Chairman Alex Schriver told Martin on Tell Me More. "And young people are sitting here, three years off, with skyrocketing national debt. They can't put gas in their tank."

Schriver is scheduled to be on a CPAC panel Saturday called "Why Am I Living in My Parents' Basement? How the Obama Administration's Policies are Detrimental to Young People."

In 2008, Obama scored big with the youngest voters. A Pew Research Center survey released last year indicated that he could again, at least in a head-to-head matchup with Republican Mitt Romney.

But another Pew survey, this one released Thursday, found that 24 percent of adults ages 18 to 34 say that economic conditions caused them to move back in with their parents. That percentage rises to 34 among people ages 25 to 29.

Schriver says that reality presents an opening for Republicans.

"We as a movement are talking about candidates and policies that will allow these young people to provide for themselves, get their own health insurance, get a job that they can actually support themselves [with] and, tongue-in-cheek, move out of your parents' basement," said Schriver.

CPAC organizers tell NPR they expect about 40 percent of this year's attendees to be people under the age of 30.

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