Is the Youth Vote Up for Grabs?
In 2008 Barack Obama was able to energize 18-29 year old voters as they have never been energized before. They turned out in record numbers. Obama was cool, unlike John McCain or the dead Presidents whose faces appear on our currency. Their teachers and professors reinforced their beliefs. They wanted to help make history by electing the nation’s first black president and overturn the country’s racist past that their parents and grandparents helped create. The man spoke about “hope and change” but was light on details. Yet, the country’s youth followed them like the pied piper.
My son swears that he is the only one of 40+ middle class (primarily 18-27 year old) employees at his Outback restaurant in a comfortable suburban community that voted for McCain.
Other than “hope and change,” most younger voters couldn’t tell you what Obama stood for in 2008, but he was the “cool black guy” so they were going to vote for him.
So, how has all that “hopey, changy stuff” worked out? Only 55 percent of Americans between 16 and 29 have jobs. Student loan debt has surpassed credit card debt. Today’s 16-29 year olds truly are becoming the “young the restless.” Many are starting to wonder if the crazy woman with the glasses who “could see Russia from her house” wasn’t wrong when she warned against spending money the country doesn’t have.
Obama realizes that while he will probably still win the “youth vote” he won’t have the 67% he enjoyed in 2008. Of greater concern, young Americans are not engaged and energized like they were in 2008. He is doing everything he can by touring colleges to fighting to keep student loan interest low. But, will it be enough?
More likely, fewer young people will vote and those that do will be open to a candidate who can speak to their misery and give them reason for optimism about the future. Does that mean that a GOP candidate can win the 18-29 demographic?
Not likely. But they can close the considerable gap that opened up in 2008.
In 2008, the youth vote helped sweep Barack Obama into office. Americans 18-29 spread the word on social media, energized fundraising and went to the polls.
In 2012, the youth vote is moving on and throwing those omnipresent “Hope” bumper stickers and t-shirts in garbage bins.
Not because of apathy. Not because another candidate generates more enthusiasm. Not because of his character. Not because they think voting is pointless. The 18-29 vote is up for grabs in 2012 because youth can’t afford cars to put bumper stickers on and those t-shirts are worn out from too many days sitting on the couch unemployed.
The sobering reality: just 55.3 percent of Americans between 16 and 29 have jobs. And earlier this year, Americans’ student loan debt surpassed credit card debt for the first time ever.
Hat tip: American Thinker