Excitement for the 2012 elections is far from 2008 levels on college campuses across the country, according to a report by the Associated Press.
At Elmhurst college, students are having trouble gaining enough interest in politics to even start a Young Democrats society and you would be hard pressed to find a poster or signs for either President Barack Obama or his opponent Mitt Romney.
“Lots of people thought President Obama could go in and break gridlock and that didn’t happen,” senior Miami University student Ethan Weber told the Associated Press. “That’s the scariest thing to a lot of young people – that nothing is going to happen.”
This, along with multiple studies that show lack in young voter enthusiasm, could mean a significant change for the 2012 elections, especially for the Obama campaign.
A poll released in June from Pew Research Center found that young voters were much less engaged in this election than they had been last year with only 60 percent reporting that they were interested in the election.
A June interview with University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill students conducted by the Huffington Post saw that 2008 Obama voters had switched their affiliation to Ron Paul, saying that Obama had not changed the system like they were expecting.
As young people find themselves faced with the same worries about their future jobs, student debt and the status quo on foreign policy, they are concluding that nothing has changed in Washington and that the hope and change that they voted for has not been realized.
Even Obama’s endorsement of same-sex marriage has not contributed to an increase in young Obama supporters. “”Too little, too late,” Meghan Gilliland told the Huffington Post.
This should be worrying for Obama since he owes a great deal of his 2008 success not only to the youth vote but also to their volunteer get-out-the-vote efforts and their effectiveness as a loud and enthusiastic fan base.
Young voter turnout, ages 18-29, increased substantially for the 2008 elections and the gap between young Republicans and young Democrats exploded. In 2004, party affiliation was virtually even for young voters but increased in 2008 to a 19 point gap between registered Democrats and registered Republicans, with most young voters identifying themselves as Democrat.
The 2008 elections also experienced a, “disparity between young voters and other age groups and arger than in any presidential election since exit polling began in 1972,” according Pew Research Center data.
Only time will tell exactly how much this news will affect Obama’s re-election efforts, but one thing that can be said for sure is the Obama campaign cannot rely on the support they had in 2008. Students are not rallying their campuses to support the incumbent President, they are not putting the bumper stickers on their cars and they are certainly not volunteering their Saturdays to knock on doors and make phone calls.
While Romney isn’t exactly drowning in support for young people either, Obama’s fall from stardom in the eyes of young people means a whole different ball game for 2012.