Young Voters Could
Again Play Key Role in US Election
October 05, 2012
President Barack Obama has said young voters were crucial to his victory
over Republican John McCain in 2008. In 2008, they turned out in record
numbers. Four years later, enthusiasm on college campuses for the
contest between Obama and Republican Mitt Romney seems less visible.
Both campaigns are reaching out to voters between the ages of 18 and 29.
At the University of Maryland near Washington D.C., young Democrats meet
to phone voters in nearby "battleground states" - states that tend to
swing between Democratic and Republican candidates.
Maryland itself tends to vote Democratic in presidential races.
Engaging college voters
Surveys show that young people are less engaged this year than in 2008.
But at Maryland, College Democrat President Tyler Grote said there is a
lot of enthusiasm for Obama.
"People are very passionate about what they believe in, especially when
there are people with two very different approaches for how they want to
run this country," said Grote.
A few hundred Maryland students turned out to watch the first
presidential debate between Obama and Romney.
College Republican Caroline Carlson said the economic situation has
dampened the president's appeal.
"In 2008 it was all about hope and change. They thought they were voting
for a celebrity, whereas now, they realize when they are graduating from
college, I think the unemployment rate for people who are 20-24 is about
14 percent, which is pretty high," said Carlson.
The Romney campaign is trying to win over young voters who turned out
for Obama in 2008 by highlighting the economic situation.
Republican Vice Presidential Candidate Paul Ryan appealed to young
voters in his convention speech in Tampa.
"College graduates should not have to live out their 20s in their
childhood bedrooms, staring up at fading Obama posters and wondering
when they can move out and get on with their lives," said Ryan.
The president has visited a number of college campuses and has spoken
about keeping student loans affordable. He asked Ohio students for their
"And if you're with me and if you work with me, we will win Wood County
again. We'll win Ohio again. We will finish what we started," said
Taking notice of campaigns
voters traditionally favor Democrats. Heather Smith is president of the
non-partisan group "Rock the Vote," which organizes rock concerts and
voter registration drives on college campuses.
She said young people who turned 18 since the last election are
different from those four years ago.
"They have to be engaged by the candidates to show up and repeat the
record-breaking decision-making impact that their older brothers and
sisters had," she said.
Smith said young people have not been following the 2012 race as closely
as they did in 2008. But they're now starting to pay attention and are
lining up to register.