Youth turnout last night was only slightly elevated from 2008 levels and young people trusted Obama more with the economy, according to a conference call with leaders from the “non-partisan” youth voting effort Rock the Vote and the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE), a non-partisan youth political engagement study committee. Preliminary numbers show that 49.3 percent of eligible millennial voters cast a ballot in yesterday’s election and that they were more willing to trust Obama and give him more time to secure the economic future for their generation.
Peter Levine, director of CIRCLE said, “turnout was strong, right in keeping with 2008 levels” and cited the statistic that approximately 19 percent of the electorate in general was represented by youth voters. But while much of the conversation was numerical, it was president of Rock the Vote Heather Smith’s comments about the youth’s concerns and vision for the future of America that has educated minds scratching their heads.
“The number one issue by far for young people was the economy – everything is seen through an economic lens,” Smith said responding to a question, and even admitted that youth unemployment is “much higher than any other age group.” Levine confirmed to listeners on the call that according to CIRCLE’s polling, jobs and the economy were in fact the number one issue for youth voters.
If that’s the case, it’s curious then why, according Levine, “they believe Obama is best suited to meet their greatest need which was the economy and they were willing to give him more time to fix it.”
Either younger voters possess an unparalleled optimism about Obama’s chances to turn the economy around in a second term, or they refuse to believe their rock star candidate is not responsible for the high unemployment in their demographic, a decline in household income, and an economy in ruin.
But Smith also admitted that “college affordability and student loans, and healthcare” were the next two most important issues that “drove them to pay attention, and search for solutions and to participate in this election.”
Guess the youth voters didn’t really pay attention too closely – college tuition has increased by 15 percent under President Obama and those with student loan debt are now saddled with, on average, more than more than $26,000, an increase of approximately $3,000 during his first term in office.
Smith offered up the defense that millennials were complex voters, stating, “they have a real concern about the future – the economy, climate change, women’s rights, gay rights” claiming it is a “dual nature where they are very practical, but have a greater vision for the future.”
In that case, youth voters apparently think President Obama really is the savior of the world. If youth voters have that much faith in the president, he can apparently fix the economy, heal the planet, make life better for women and grant more rights to gays in his second and final term as president.