Does the young vote matter?

It’s no secret that the young generation of voters rallied around Barack Obama and helped push him into the presidential spotlight in the 2008 election. Can he count on that vote to carry him through 2012?

The Harvard Institute of Politics conducted a survey of voters ages 18 to 29 to see who they preferred. Obama had 43% of the vote, whereas Romney has 26%. In December, Obama was at 37% and Romney was at 26%.

Obama may still have the young vote in his favor, but he should not consider the presidency in the bag. The LA Times writes about how although young voters favor him, they are also less likely to vote or volunteer for campaigns.

John Della Volpe, polling director for the Harvard Institute of Politics, gives some reasons why the interest in voting may be tapering off. “There were some factors that led people to increase engagement in ’02, ’06, ’08 — Katrina, Iraq, Afghanistan, not agreeing with Bush, 9/11, and obviously Obama and the use of new tools to mobilize,” explained Della Volpe. Della Volpe went on to say as students focus on getting an education, paying loans and staying afloat, political involvement is not at the forefront of concern anymore.

That is part of the push behind Obama’s current trip. Obama is visiting the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of Colorado at Boulder and the University of Iowa this week. His main topic? How to keep the costs of college loans down. It’s a popular topic among the young voters, and if Obama’s message is loud and convincing enough, he might motivate some more voters to participate.

The problem Obama is running into? Romney voiced that he agreed with Obama’s focus. This could mean Romney could snatch some voters Obama was counting on. Overall, however, Romney has been focused middle class families.

What do you think? Do Obama and Romney need to fight to gain the young vote? Or will it be a different crowd of people who carry the election this fall?

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4 thoughts on “Does the young vote matter?

  1. Kelly says:

    When I was a young adult, just old enough to vote, I do not remember any candidate vying for my vote. We were certainly not the demographic that they aimed for while selling themselves as the strongest candidate. That has really changed since the Clinton/Gore campiagn reached out to that generation. Young people are more involved and more on top of politics and other news than ever before. They are receiving their information through more avenues than ever before. They listen, they care, they vote.They are a group as important as any other and both candidates would do well to reach out to them and listen to what matters in their lives. Obama has already shown he can do it. Romney says he is a champion for the middle class. That is a very good thing. So would listening to the ones with the entry level jobs who are eating Raman Noodles for dinner. They have concerns. They have a voice. They have voter registration cards.

    • I apologize for the late response. I agree that we have seen more interest in the young vote, even since I was in high school myself in the late 2000s. I think we live in a culture now where each demographic is important for their own reasons, and politicians would do best to try and reach out to each one in some way.

  2. Jules says:

    People are more idealistic when they are young . Mr. OBama is a gifted orator and he energized many with his hope and change promises. His policies just haven’t worked and have caused dire consequences. Unfortunately, what his messages in Chapel Hill, Boulder, etc. will BE is that the government should “help”, not REAL ways to keep costs down. In the real world “help” equals debt there is no hope of repaying and a consequent lowering of quality of life for everyone. Not sure yet of mr. Romney’s definition of “help”. I hope the younger generations will pay attention to what is going on in our country and the world, and vote! they will be in charge sooner than they think and we need them to step up now to help keep this ship from sinking.
    If I were a candidate I would try to engage as many of the younger generation as possible.
    People like you Ms. Dales, keep up the good work!

    • I apologize for the late response. I agree that young people are much more idealistic, and this can be both a positive and negative thing. Young people are getting more interested in voting themselves, but it can also be difficult to understand some of the topics and issues that are crucial in an election. I myself was very eager to vote for the first time back in 2008, but I certainly did not know as much as in that election as older generations. Now that I have been educated in political science classes, I feel much more prepared this fall for the election. I think it’s great that my generation is getting more interested, but an increase support to educate them is important as well.

      Thank you very much for your kind words! I appreciate you following my blog, and I hope you are enjoying it!

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