Despite the punditry claiming there was less enthusiasm this year among young people, they ended up making the difference in the election this year. Now that millenials are the largest voting bloc in the country, their influence will continue to grow.
I am a 24-year-old teacher -- smack in the middle of America's "young generation" of 18-30-year-olds -- and I am troubled that half of my cohort -- my peers, my co-workers, my friends -- choose not to exercise their right to vote.
These headlines fit well with the conventional storyline that young adults participated in large numbers in the "wave election" of 2008, but may not duplicate that effort in 2012. However, should we deduce from the Harvard poll that the youth vote will desert President Obama in 2012?
College life exposes students to democracy in action. They are challenged by new thoughts and ideas and must learn to consider and respect multiple opinions and perspectives, both in the classroom and in other campus interactions with their peers.
The voting power of young adults certainly exists; the issue has now just become a question of action. As a person who is both a youth voter and a college student, the non-empirically based answer seems quite easy: convenience.
This cohort is more comfortable with racial diversity, it is more supportive of gay rights, and it is supportive of women's reproductive rights. Why are young voters proving to be so different from other generations of Americans?
The Internet not only narrows the participation gap between young and old, it lends a powerful platform to a typically quiet constituency -- we've grabbed the bullhorn and, all of a sudden, our agenda is beginning to resonate.
Bloomberg is a lot more viable than people in the Northeast would like to think. If he is running because he thinks he can pull the Republicans back or make a viable third party movement, he poses a major threat to the Democrats.
Interestingly, while most youth voters seemed to have confidence in their own decision to remain unaffected by the allegations of racial undertones cast out by the media, this confidence was not shared in others.
"A lot of my students say voting is not as important in the post civil rights world ... I first encourage them to become more involved in the political process. The more you understand the process, the more you understand how important the right to vote is."