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Are Young Voters Still Tuned In

June 21, 2010

President Barrack Obama stormed into the White House in 2008 with the energized and overwhelming support of young voters – those between the ages of 18-25.

This voting demographic saw something in Mr. Obama they liked, someone different, a person with a youthful appearance and disposition, and comparatively speaking, to Senator John McCain, someone from an age bracket they could trust.

Young people’s support for Obama was everywhere in 2008, on bumper stickers, on college campus, and in a multitude of voter registration campaigns. Make no mistake about it; these voters also influenced the votes of their parents, who were all too happy to see their kids finally taking an interest in something more stimulating than the latest popular video game.

That was then, and this is now.

This once enthusiastic support for President Obama among young voters, and their toddling parents, has all but evaporated. The reality of higher taxes, fewer jobs, less affordability of housing, continued high education costs, and the uneasiness that President Obama isn’t representing much in the way of change at all, has taken its toll on this once powerful support for the President.

In a phrase, kids are doing what they always do, which is to move on to the next thing that works for them. Young people adhere to a creed learned from their baby-booming parents, which is summed up in the phrase, “been there, done that.”

To be fair, there are many young voters who do not fall into this category, and they are weighing things carefully, and do give President Obama high marks for his achievements during his first two years.

Yet, the repercussions for President Obama are that he should not, and cannot, count on the youth vote in 2012. It obviously depends upon who the Republicans nominate for President, and two years in politics, is a lifetime, but President Obama should be worried about the active support of this voting bloc.

If things don’t improve economically, and if the type of change President Obama talked about in his campaign doesn’t materialize, young people may decide to stay home on Election Day 2012, and this would be an electoral blow to the President in the next presidential election.

We have already seen the effects of a lackadaisical youth vote. Only 24% of 18-29 year olds now call themselves “politically active” which is down from 43% during the 2008 presidential election.  Young voters failed to turn out in statewide elections that were held in Massachusetts, Virginia, and New Jersey last year (only 15-19% voted), and all three of those elections went Republican.

Some say health care reform will benefit the President, after all, there were provisions in the bill which helped young people (raising the age they may stay on their parents plan), and the government take over the student loan program might help college kids, too.

But these things must be paid for over the long haul, and young people are the ones who will have to pay for the costs associated with President Obama’s agenda.

It will be interesting to see if young people will accept the fact that they will have to work more hours, and many more years, then generations who came before them, in order to pay for the social reorder being undertaken by a President they helped elect.

It will be President Obama’s task to call upon them to make such a sacrifice, and his presidency, and the future of the Democrat Party, may well be decided, by their decision.