Did Lena Dunham Personally Cost Democrats the 2004 Election?

Slate's Culture Blog
Oct. 25 2012 3:44 PM

Did Lena Dunham Personally Cost Democrats the 2004 Election?

Here at Slate, we’re unabashed fans of ascendant auteur Lena Dunham, so of course we watched—and highly enjoyed—her adorable new campaign ad for Barack Obama, in which she says your first time (voting, that is) should be with someone really special:

Together with Monday’s “You Don’t Own Me” get-out-the-vote ad, in which Dunham and other young female writers, actors, directors, and artists lip-synched Lesley Gore’s 1963 classic as facts about Republicans’ opposition to reproductive rights flashed onscreen, Dunham’s “Your First Time” is proof of the Democrats’ savvy in appealing to the portion of the population that some might describe as hipsters.

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There’s only one problem with Dunham’s appeal to first-time voters. In the new ad, Dunham says, “My first time voting was amazing … I went to the polling station. I pulled back the curtain. I voted for Barack Obama.” But Dunham was born on May 13, 1986. That means she was 18 and change when John Kerry faced off against George W. Bush in November 2004. If voting is so important, why didn’t she vote when she first had the chance?

To be fair, I’d rather lose my voting virginity to Barack Obama than John Kerry, too. Plus, Dunham's vote probably wouldn't have meant much at the time. She spent her freshman year of college at the New School in New York and only transferred to Oberlin—located in the crucial swing state of Ohio—after Bush had been sworn into his second term.

Update: According to New York City’s voter file, a Lena Dunham registered in Manhattan voted in the 2008 general election but not the 2004 general election or any local elections between the two—which appears to confirm Dunham’s claim that her first time voting was for Barack Obama.

L.V. Anderson is a Slate assistant editor. She edits Slate's food and drink sections and writes Brow Beat's recipe column, You're Doing It Wrong. Follow her on Twitter.