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The Youth Vote: President Obama in Pursuit

by Ben Seidman | University of Michigan

F Posted in: Election 2012, News and Politics P Posted on: August 7, 2012
BIG O Image Courtesy of Flickr, borman818

As Election Day grows near, President Obama has allotted many resources towards mobilizing young voters. However, young voters are finding it hard to pledge their allegiance to either candidate in the midst of an uncertain employment future.

Obama is looking toward young voters, the same voters that put him into office the first time around in 2008, to step up and punch their ballots, choosing to support him over Mitt Romney. Obama is also looking to recruit those young voters filling out their first presidential ballots.

A Gallup poll reports that 58 percent of voters from age 18 to 29 say that they are “definitely” going to vote, 20 points under the national average. Compared with 2004 and 2008, when 78 percent and 81 percent reported they would vote in the upcoming election, this year’s numbers fall far short.

Reports also show that young voters are not as enthused about voting in the November’s elections as they were in years past, making Obama’s plan to reach out to that segment of the population that much more of a challenge and obstacle.

However, there is still time. History tells us that the youth vote becomes more integrated into the excitement for the election as it gets closer to voting season. In 2004, there was a 20 percent increase in the amount of young voters who said they would vote, while there was a 9 percent increase in 2008.

William Grenis, a senior at the University if Michigan, will be eligible to vote in the presidential election for his first time. Grenis witnessed Obama speak in Michigan in January and took note of Obama’s keen focus on alleviating student loan debt in order to attract the youth vote.

“I absolutely plan to vote in the upcoming election,” Grenis said. “But I can’t say that the same is true for the rest of my generation. It is tough to show loyalty to either candidate when neither has a quick fix for the economy and their futures.”

Meanwhile, the 100-day mark to the election creeps closer. In order to revitalize his campaign, Obama will need the young sector of the population to support him not only in the voting booths, but on the campaign trail as well.

“This is a critical bloc,” Trey Grayson, director of the Harvard Institute of Politics and a former Republican secretary of state in Kentucky, said to The Wall Street Journal. ”Romney has got to do better than McCain did, and if he does that, it gives him an ability to win some of these close states.”

Young voter turnout could be the pivotal point for the presidential outcome. New laws are being passed in some states in order to allow citizens to register to vote via Facebook, which will surely attract a younger group. Obama has used social media vigorously in his effort to reach the younger demographic.

Elizabeth Horwitz, senior at the University of Maryland, supports Obama but is finding it hard to show the enthusiasm that she did four years ago.

“I want to want to feel excited about this campaign,” Horwitz said. “But I’m looking at the world now from where it was when Obama was elected, and it’s not that much brighter out there.”

Capturing the youth vote will not only be critical to President Obama’s cause. Romney’s camp is launching full-scale measures in order to get out the vote, mobilizing College Republicans across the country, especially in states that are still up for grabs.

Ben Seidman Ben Seidman Ben was born and raised on the streets of New York City. Writing is his passion. Keeping people informed about what is going on in the world is his job. Go Blue!

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