BY KIMORA COCHRAN
Most of us were both amused and delighted by President Obama’s “Late Night” appearance with Jimmy Fallon last week – yet, most Republicans found the Commander in Chief’s performance less than funny. Predictably, the GOP went on an all-week rant about Obama as the “Celebrity President,” with former Bush White House adviser Karl Rove taking a cheap shot in a recent American Crossroads Super PAC video: “After 4 years of a celebrity president, is your life any better?”
But, for the most part, it was all good reviews for the president’s Fallon episode. Simply put: it’s what we like to see our presidents do. Before sitting down for a more formal interview, President Obama shocked the audience after appearing from behind stage curtains, ready to “slow jam” with Jimmy Fallon and his band (Philadelphia’s hip hop sensation The Roots). Obama sang then talked the lead role, while Fallon and The Roots offered back up, on the tune of his plan to freeze interest rates for student loans. They were not shy about criticizing filibustering Republicans for standing in the way of his plan.
Media outlets were crammed with raving reviews about the gut-busting performance, but then you’ll stumble upon those sour few, like Fox News’ Gretchen Carlson. Carlson came down on President Obama’s appearance on the Late Night show by calling him a “nutso.” Carlson’s scathing review was not alone; Washington Examiner writer Charlie Spiering proclaims by appearing on the comedy show, Mr. President “has ‘jumped the shark.‘
However, theoretically – statistically and economically – the appearance was not a bad idea, at all. You can see exactly what the campaign was attempting to do. President Obama is going after the youth vote to re-ignite the enthusiasm of 2008 and he’s attempting to woo women voters with the ‘quiet storm’ act.’ Reviewing recent polls number explains his appearance on Jimmy Fallon, down to a science.
It’s no secret the November election is going to be a tight one. Surely, Obama’s head is not buried in the sand concerning this fact.
According to Purple Strategies, the April 2012 Purple Poll shows Mitt Romney getting a second look from voters, with President Obama maintaining a small but consistent lead across the Purple electorate. As of now, Obama is ahead 48-44, which is way to close for comfort. Therefore, the smart move –which he did with this appearance– is to electricfly the young, first time voters, by focusing on issues that directly affect them.
“The Preezy of the United Steezy” (as Jimmy Fallon called him) is leading the “King of Hypocrites” (as Romney was named on MSNBC) in the category of young voters and college students, but his coolness alone among youngsters will not win their vote. As it’s been stated before, we are voting for the President of the United States here, not Prom King.
However, just as a fun fact, the last Republican presidential candidate that was able to win voters under age 30 was Republican George H.W. Bush…. in 1988!
Back in 2008, Obama had a 34-point advantage over Republican Sen. John McCain among voters under age 30. Fast forward four years, and the slope is not as steep. A new Harvard Poll suggests Obama is only leading Romney by 12 points among those ages 18-24, and by 23-points in the 25-29 age group, according to the survey.
To bring all these numbers full circle, guess who was the “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” audience Tuesday night? College students, ages ranging from 18-25, the same voting demographic Obama must kiss and make-up with. Also, how fitting was it for the show to be tape on location at University of North Carolina in Chapel. Let’s not forget to mention, the women voters watching from home, and those who have streamed the video online thousands of times.
While the jury is still out on whether or not these types of appearances will pay dividends, appearing on late night comedy show is a genius idea. Still, it’s also a signal of a tight election in November: typically, a move like that is representative of a new presidential candidate running for a first term rather than an incumbent running for a second.
Ultimately, it’s another “He’s the coolest President ever” point for Obama, and a fabulous reminder of why Romney’s stiff personality is having trouble measuring up to this. This is not to say, getting re-elected will be cake-walk for Obama, but finding a way to make people admire you, laugh with you and believe in your plans, comes easy to this particular President – while it gets harder for Romney each day (who recently told an audience of graduating college students that they should just get a loan from their parents to start a business).
In the end, the truth hurts sometimes. The late night appearance was just another reminder that Republicans have got a lot of work to do with young voters and women.