Youth Vote Still Up for Grabs

apco-election-coverageJadzia Butler is a junior associate in our Washington, D.C., office and will be following the dynamics of the youth vote during the 2012 election cycle.

My, the difference one month can make! While they say no press is bad press, it looks like the more millennials find out about their choices in the Republican primary, the less enthusiastic and the less optimistic they are about candidates’ abilities to bring about real change to Washington’s bitterly divided political arena.

One young voter (a self-professed “avid conservative”) says she feels the primary itself has become everything that is wrong with Washington: “Toeing the party line and destroying your enemy at any cost has become the norm. Republican candidates who attack Barack Obama’s religion and call him a communist out to destroy America really turn me off.” As another voter put it, “Some of the most intelligent candidates are tripping over themselves trying to be the most conservative, traditional, populist candidate. It’s sad that they feel they have to do that.” 

Even the rallying cries of “President Paul! President Paul!” are fading into the distance as young voters hear more about the philosophy behind Ron Paul’s beliefs, which led him to voting against the Civil Rights Act of 1964 because, in his view, forced integration constitutes a violation of liberty. Young voters don’t see this record as a blatant hatred of minorities, but rather a stark reminder of just how dangerous consistency can be when applied across the board. 

But Democrats shouldn’t start celebrating just yet. While young voters are feeling disenchanted with the Republican candidates, these same voters still feel disappointed by their president’s failure to uphold the many idealistic promises he made them back in 2008.  As a result, the youth vote is still very much up for grabs.

Young voters don’t care if a candidate promises energy independence so our president never bows to a Saudi king again, or if they swear they’ll have a job for every new college graduate, or if they implore Congress to work with them to make student loan repayment easier. These promises sound nice, but young voters simply aren’t buying them. 

They would, however, like to hear the details.

How will they reconcile our skyrocketing deficit with their promise? What’s the timeline for accomplishing their end goal? To whom are they going to reach out across the aisle to ensure that it doesn’t get held up in Congress? It may not be the sexiest sound bite, but this time around it’s the roadmap, not the destination, that’ll get young voters fired up.

Posted on March 2, 2012 By
Categories  Community Engagement, U.S. Elections and tagged , ,
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