The Youth Vote Helps Re-Elect President Obama

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Atif Cheema/The Daily Northwestern 

Young people may have sealed President Obama’s re-election, according to a series of post-election tallies. While there was concern about the political interest of voters aged 18 to 29, this demographic came out to the polls in record numbers Tuesday.

According to a Gallup Poll published in July, only 58 percent of registered young voters in the United States said they would “definitely vote” in the 2012 election. This statistic was well below the 78 percent of young voters who pledged to vote in 2008 and had experts worried that an “enthusiasm gap” may cost President Obama re-election.

Exit polls, however,  show young voters made up 19 percent of the electorate, a 1-point increase from 2008, and Obama won the youth vote 60 percent compared to 37 percent for Romney.

The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) estimates 22 to 23 million people between the ages of 18 and 29 nationwide voted this election. CIRCLE also says that younger voters were key for Obama in the battleground states such as Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

Peter Levine, Director of  CIRCLE, said if Obama had not received this support, it would have cost him the election.

“It is because [Mitt Romney] lost the youth vote pretty decisively in all those battleground states that he is not going to be the next president of the United States.”

Heather Smith, president of Rock the Vote, an organization which specializes in registering young voters, said a lot of the enthusiasm is run-off from 2008 when the Democratic Party reached out to first-time voters.

“There were massive registration efforts. [Young people were] targeted and they were spoken to.”

While both candidates spent their fair share campaigning in these battleground states, the president focused primarily on colleges and universities for support, while Gov. Romney spent a lot of time in factories and plants.

States such as Ohio and Florida have some of the largest college campuses, which worked in Obama’s favor. In Ohio, for example, College Democrats at universities such as Ohio State and Kent State had the unique opportunity to host celebrities such as actress Olivia Munn and actor Jack Black who encouraged students to vote early and shuttled them to the  polls — incentivising students to cast their ballots.

Because Ohioans were able to vote more than a month before Election Day, College Democrats at Kent State arranged for daily shuttle services to be provided for any student who wanted to take advantage of them, which made it exceptionally easy for these young people to vote. This strategy became common for College Democrats.

The Democratic ground game at large universities in battleground states was clearly effective, and many of the College Republicans focused less on their college campus and more on the outside community, where they thought they would be more effective. This may have attributed to the President’s victory as well.

And young people didn’t just determine the presidency, young people flooded the polls in every states and helped to, for example, elect Elizabeth Warren to U.S Senate with the support of over 60 percent support in Massachusetts.

Smith called youth participation in American politics the “new normal,” considering about half of young adults have voted in presidential elections since 2004.

“This voting bloc can no longer be an afterthought to any political party or campaign.”

The Independent Voter Network is dedicated to providing political analysis, unfiltered news, and rational commentary in an effort to elevate the level of our public discourse.


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  1. olivia I see no difference from now. The economy is still really bad since Bush was president. Actually it's alot worse. I have a college degree and can't find a job. I have been working so hard to find a job and it's always the same thing. Filled Position. I wouldn't be surprised if the county goes right into the Great Depression. They either need to find someone to elect for president, or Obama need to start getting on top of things. It's not fair that noone can still not find jobs and that the truth!
  2. Luke Enoch http://www.happyplace.com/19076/election-infographic-shows-most-educated-states-voted-for-obama
  3. Jenny Jo Now let's break down the demographics in those states as well. See where those votes really came from in the southern states, shall we? O, the left never wants to show those stats, ironically. I always find it funny when people hint that the southern states take more in federal aid than the northern states. Let's look at what party that the majority of the people from the south who take financial aid, ALWAYS hardline vote for. It is nice to put facts out there, but let's not be intellectually dishonest and use facts, skewed without all the context to insult one party over the other Luke... as if Obama wasnt bought by the same money Romney was. I thought this was an Independent site as well? Seems to be nothing more than partisan windbags flocking here to fluff up their shitty pick of lesser evil.
  4. Wayne Alexander The young like Obama, do not know how many states there are in America!!
  5. Holly Stowe Yeah...that youth vote who went to an on-campus rally and listened to Obama tell them what Romney stood for and while they were lies such as "Under a Romney presidency, he would keep our military in the Middle East indefinitely". Or this one: "Under the Romney plan, the middle class will be paying higher taxes". Lies, lies and more lies. You elected a liar.
  6. Holly Stowe College professors no longer teach students critical thinking; they dictate their beliefs to the student sheep. They themselves are naive though and forget history. One only has to know history to see the educators sat back and watched as governments moved extreme left thinking they were immune...and they were for a long while but eventually everyone has to conform.
  7. Jenny Jo I guess they would prefer the environmental groups that would shut down the power grid and have us living like Amish to save a cricket species, the totalitarian left who want to rule your life and tell you what are you allowed to consume/use from across the country, and tax you at 90% and then give you your tiny paycheck while you stand in the bread line, or cutting off your parents healthcare and sending them to FEMA camps when they get too old for medical treatment at a fair price, or monitoring you inside and outside your house 24/7 with the use of drones and FLIP, wire taps, internet monitoring, cameras on street corners. How about opressing states? How about promising to close torture facilities and then renigging? How about instituting indefinite detention for American citizens? I'm not even Republican, but if you want to act like a delusional talking head, using absurd stances of a tiny handful of crazy people on whatever side, well, I can do the same thing. Strangely though, as absurd as both of our examples are.... the current administration is already doing half of the ones I listed... so Im curious who we should REALLY be worried about. I guess letting people believe in whatever religion they want to believe in is a bad thing though right Bryant? Seems like your comment is nothing more than a bigot having a go at an easy target. Especially since you seem be under the delusion that the parties are any different, other than the names on the ballot. Irony.
  8. Jenny Jo Is it ironic the left panders so much to the failed educational system, when it cranks out so many clones with the inability see past the curtain?
  9. Jenny Jo I know "liberal" has become sysnomous with "left" in this country but let's not let the crazy extremist lefties steal a term that used to mean "center" and "freedom" more than anything. Classic Liberalism could free this country once again, but the young people are the ones who need to wake up and realize this, because in the end, both major parties are funded by the same elite, doing the same thing through a slightly different course.. and it seems the young people are falling for the propaganda that there is a difference.
  10. Jenny Jo And let's hope they are intelligent enough, and the American Education System has not failed them so bad that they start to mistake "liberal" with "left", and make very wrong moves for this country.
32 comments
olivia
olivia

I see no difference from now. The economy is still really bad since Bush was president. Actually it's alot worse. I have a college degree and can't find a job. I have been working so hard to find a job and it's always the same thing. Filled Position. I wouldn't be surprised if the county goes right into the Great Depression. They either need to find someone to elect for president, or Obama need to start getting on top of things. It's not fair that noone can still not find jobs and that the truth!

Wayne Alexander
Wayne Alexander

The young like Obama, do not know how many states there are in America!!

Holly Stowe
Holly Stowe

Yeah...that youth vote who went to an on-campus rally and listened to Obama tell them what Romney stood for and while they were lies such as "Under a Romney presidency, he would keep our military in the Middle East indefinitely". Or this one: "Under the Romney plan, the middle class will be paying higher taxes". Lies, lies and more lies. You elected a liar.

Holly Stowe
Holly Stowe

College professors no longer teach students critical thinking; they dictate their beliefs to the student sheep. They themselves are naive though and forget history. One only has to know history to see the educators sat back and watched as governments moved extreme left thinking they were immune...and they were for a long while but eventually everyone has to conform.

Bryant Amper
Bryant Amper

The GOP has no one but to blame but themselves. They've chosen to align themselves with a core group of uneducated Flat Earth/ Science-Is-Bad morons, the religious born again zealots ( who were voting for a Mormon! Irony much?), birther loons , and "legitimate rape" scumbags. The youth aren't down with it.

Holly Stowe
Holly Stowe

Ryan...you think you know what you want but the reality is you haven't a clue. The younger generation is completely ignorant about what a republic actually is and why our founding fathers gave us a republic over a democracy. If you want Obama...then you want a socialist government because nearly everything he has done, his platform in fact (as well as a lot George Bush's compassionate conservative platform) was leaning socialist. Obama in fact IS Bush In many regards and still your generation is naive to it. In all my years of voting I have never seem a more naive generation. I get that you want abortion rights, gay rights, legalization of drugs...but at the same time, you want someone else to pay the taxes to support all of the government programs you desire (that is Obama's plan) but since those on the government dole will quickly overtake the number of workers (producers) in this country and that there are fewer millionaires every year..someone else is going to be stuck with the bill and its your generation. It's going to suck to be you with the tax rates that shall be required of you. Your generation in fact as a whole will never experience the same opportunity that my generation has had. And government is to blame...but more so is the voter.

Paul Grajciar
Paul Grajciar

Well Chris, i think that would be conservatives interpretation of liberal policies.

Christopher Smith
Christopher Smith

Wow. 80% of college instructors are liberal, yet 39% are smart enough to understand the reality of Liberal Policies. Nice. Imagine if the perspective taught at colleges was 50/50. Obama would be pricing out moving companies.

Ryan Stimson
Ryan Stimson

Old people: "We're thinking of the future for our children when we vote Romney"

The youth: "We're thinking of our future when we vote for Obama. We got this, we know what we want better than you do..."

Wayne Treece
Wayne Treece

What is going to happen when these voters become the leaders of tomorrow.

Holly Stowe
Holly Stowe

Luke...the Internet didn't "dissolve" the Soviet Union (you should know history better than that). And while the Internet indeed makes it easier to be informed, it also makes it easier to be misinformed as well. Too many people gravitate to sites that share their preconceived notions or ideas. Obama effectively ran his campaign AGAINST Romney rather than on his own policies and platform. In fact we didn't get a hint of anything Obama was actually going to work on until he handed out his handy-dandy binder two weeks before the election. In the meantime, Obama told lie after lie about Romney's intentions. For instance, Obama claimed Romney meant to keep our military in the Middle East indefinitely (a lie). Obama kept claiming that ObamaCare is the same as RomneyCare (and there are HUGE differences) and yet Romney would rescind ObamaCare and have nothing to replace it with (another lie). Obama told absolute lies about Romney's platform on the auto bailouts as well. It was almost as if Obama only read the headline that the New York Times used to title the op-Ed article written by Romney on GM and Chrysler. Even Obama cheerleader David Letterman had to question Obama for that lie. Obama lied his way into a second term and Americans, especially the young voters flocked to him regardless, even though they can't find decent jobs and that the bulk of the massive debt Obama's policies have saddled us with will be on their backs to pay. Even the Obama debt commission plan written by Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles explains how we can only pay down 4 trillion dollars of debt per ten-year period and we have 16+ trillion to pay off...FORTY YEARS worth of austerity spending and budget cuts. And yet Obama has saddled America with the idea that the bill can be paid by the rich and the $200,000 TO $250,000+ earning well-to-do when it is an actuarial fantasy. Simpson-Bowles admitted that much and that's one reason why Obama shelved their plan, even as he lied during the debate that he had instituted "some" of their plan. NOT. We are in serious financial trouble and numbskull Americans have their fingers in their ears and their heads in the sand. And that is a FACT. And as such, they allowed themselves to fall for the lies of the Obama campaign. Reelection was more important than truth. Reelection was so important that Obama told defense contractors that they needn't worry about the Warn Act if they held off layoff notices until after the election. Reelection was so important that the Obama administration didn't inform the American people about Iran firing on a US Predator Drone over international waters six days ago.

This is one hell of a crooked administration and Americans are so misinformed or uninformed that it is just sad. And this is especially true for younger Americans.

Tom Tanton
Tom Tanton

maybe they should demonstrate some basic knowledge. what does it say about a party that capitalizes on a group's "un-informism" and basic principles?

Richard C Barnes
Richard C Barnes

Luke, the internet doesn't inform people unless they are willing to read and learn both sides of the arguments. The reason we are becoming more divided as a country is because the internet is allowing people to reconfirm what they want to believe. And as Wingston Churchill once said “If you're not a liberal at twenty you have no heart, if you're not a conservative at forty you have no brain.” Our youth want to believe liberals are right and if they only read MoveOn.org and other left wing sites they'll feed their beliefs without being truly informed.

Holly Stowe
Holly Stowe

Yes. They want abortion rights, gay rights, and decriminalization of marijuana. And they want a fairer, flatter, simpler tax code as well. They want Social Security and Medicare reformed so that if they are paying in, it will be there to pay out for them as they retire. Mostly they want a string economy so they can get decent jobs. But Obama spoke to them on the first issues and he used scare tactics, telling young people that Romney was going to cut Pell Grants and the student loan program, reducing money overall for education. Obama told them over and over again that while Romney says he has a "5-point plan" that we don't know what that plan really is (and they didn't bother to listen or search out the Romney policies either. Reality is the biggest issue with the campaign is Obama ran against Romney rather than on his own failed policies. He lied about Romney's platform (blatantly) and Romney never answered the Obama campaign tit for tat. Romney ran too positive of a campaign. Obama got down and dirty and Romney needed to do the same against Obama. Romney was a gentlemen to the end, which IS his style...but it isn't effective against a dirty opponent.

Luke Enoch
Luke Enoch

I think the Internet makes it easy to be informed, meaning less ignorant, and since people who use the internet-- generally younger people-- can throw ideas and opinions back and forth more readily than in the past, the obvious outcome is going to side with the more liberal party. The Internet dissolved the Soviet Union because of this very reason, the Arab Spring happened because of this very reason; the only logical conclusion is that the US will become more liberal, such is the result of being informed.

Charles Fregeau
Charles Fregeau

So there's no hope for America? It's now Logan's Run time.

Brandon Johns
Brandon Johns

30-35 is young people these days as well. They need to start putting that into the young adult category.

Jane Susskind
Jane Susskind

It's interesting that young voters made up 1 point more of the electorate this year, when everyone was speculating that demographic would not turn out in as high of numbers as in 2008. I think when it came to election day, young voters still wanted to be a part of the process, and while not as energized as in 2008, still favored Obama.

Alex Gauthier
Alex Gauthier

i wonder if she-who-must-not-be-named still thinks that young voters are insignificant

Jenny Jo
Jenny Jo

I guess they would prefer the environmental groups that would shut down the power grid and have us living like Amish to save a cricket species, the totalitarian left who want to rule your life and tell you what are you allowed to consume/use from across the country, and tax you at 90% and then give you your tiny paycheck while you stand in the bread line, or cutting off your parents healthcare and sending them to FEMA camps when they get too old for medical treatment at a fair price, or monitoring you inside and outside your house 24/7 with the use of drones and FLIP, wire taps, internet monitoring, cameras on street corners. How about opressing states? How about promising to close torture facilities and then renigging? How about instituting indefinite detention for American citizens?

I'm not even Republican, but if you want to act like a delusional talking head, using absurd stances of a tiny handful of crazy people on whatever side, well, I can do the same thing. Strangely though, as absurd as both of our examples are.... the current administration is already doing half of the ones I listed... so Im curious who we should REALLY be worried about.

I guess letting people believe in whatever religion they want to believe in is a bad thing though right Bryant? Seems like your comment is nothing more than a bigot having a go at an easy target. Especially since you seem be under the delusion that the parties are any different, other than the names on the ballot. Irony.

Jenny Jo
Jenny Jo

Is it ironic the left panders so much to the failed educational system, when it cranks out so many clones with the inability see past the curtain?

Jenny Jo
Jenny Jo

I know "liberal" has become sysnomous with "left" in this country but let's not let the crazy extremist lefties steal a term that used to mean "center" and "freedom" more than anything. Classic Liberalism could free this country once again, but the young people are the ones who need to wake up and realize this, because in the end, both major parties are funded by the same elite, doing the same thing through a slightly different course.. and it seems the young people are falling for the propaganda that there is a difference.

Jenny Jo
Jenny Jo

And let's hope they are intelligent enough, and the American Education System has not failed them so bad that they start to mistake "liberal" with "left", and make very wrong moves for this country.

Chad Peace
Chad Peace

Young voters keep getting older.