In 2008, President Obama swept the nation with his campaign and appealed to Americans with his slogan, “change we can believe in.” Obama’s campaign heavily affected the youth, and grassroots movements occurred throughout college campuses in America. The youth preferred Barack Obama (65%) over John McCain (29%) which gave Barack Obama an advantage with the youth vote. This was the first time since 1976 that the youth had preferred a presidential candidate with such high ratings. Will Obama be able to rally the youth who heavily supported him in 2008 for his 2012 presidential election?
The youth support for President Obama is much lower today with Obama is leading Romney by 17 points for voters age 18 to 24. In 2008, Obama had a 34 point advantage for voters under the age of 30 over John McCain. Obama led his 2008 presidential campaign with themes of change and hope that inspired the youth in a declining economy. The enthusiastic youth in 2008 are less enthusiastic in 2012 with high rates of unemployment and large loan debts. Presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, says “50 percent of recent college graduates are unemployed or underemployed.” Some have been unpleased with the Obama administration that promised change, but have not seen the change themselves. The slow economic recovery has had the youth questioning Obama’s policies and role as President.
In a Gallup poll, only 56 percent of the youth said they were planning to vote in November as opposed to 80 percent for older adults. As a group, the youth went to the polls in large numbers in 2008, the highest turnout rate for the youth age group since 1972, the year the voting age was changed from 21 to 18. The youth was 18 percent of the votes in the 2008 presidential election and the youth vote was very important and key to Obama’s victory in 2008 in swing states that could’ve easily gone blue or red. The role of the youth will be just as important in 2012 as it was in 2008 or President Obama to win his re-election, however, President Obama will have to do more to appeal to the youth with only 50 percent of college youth who approve Obama’s overall performance.
Today, Obama is appealing to the youth by urging Congress to freeze the interest rates of student loans that was proposed to increase from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent. Obama’s campaign schedule includes visiting several college campuses to listen to issues that matter most to these students and to rally the youth to support him in his 2012 re-election. The Obama campaign has also doubled efforts to campaign to youth voters, and has recruited thousands of college students in the process. It will be hard for President Obama to get the youth as enthusiastic and energized as they were in 2008.