This election year, more than ever, campaign experts and media pundits have attempted to understand the youth vote. After 21 months of trying to "understand" young voters, this 22-year-old has a few positive and optimistic pointers to provide:
The Obvious Facts
College students have and continue to increase their voter participation rates, beginning in 2002 and most recently with the 2008 primaries. Indeed, the 2008 primaries brought about a 103 percent increase in youth turnout from 2004.
Also, technology speaks to young people. Text messaging and new media platforms like Facebook and YouTube have revolutionized political campaigning -- generating a completely new method for young people to interact and discuss ideas.
Traditional pollsters don't actually poll cell phone numbers, and many young people only use cell phones -- thereby excluding them from polling samples. With young people supporting Senator Obama by a roughly 2 to 1 margin over Senator McCain, a lot of these polls are understating the views of the youth demographic.The Obama campaign understands the importance of the youth vote. Check out Obama Campaign Manager, David Plouffe addressing College Democrats of America through a youtube message:
2008 is a Different Ball Game
The economy is in the tank and the Iraq War uniquely touches young people and our future. While John McCain offers four more years of economic hardship and war in the Middle East, Sen. Obama understands and addresses the issues important to young people. Therefore it's not surprising to see Obama Campaign Manager, David Plouffe, point to young voters as the main constituency, which drove participation in Iowa and changed the electoral outcome. Indeed, the youth vote is the only demographic (backed up by empirical date) from this cycle that can be directly correlated to a victory for Sen. Obama on Nov. 4th.
One example: Rock the Vote published polls in February with Sen. Obama beating Sen. McCain among college voters 56% to 29%. More recent polls indicate a commanding lead of 29 points for Senator Obama among young voters, and Democratic identification remains strong with a 21-point advantage.
College Democrats of America continues to engage our peers and work with the Obama campaign to turnout the youth vote. Early voting projections and streaming stories from field provide an optimistic outlook for Tuesday. Specifically in Florida (where I've been campaigning over the past few days), youth absentee and early voting is up 27% percent from 2004.