Archive for October, 2009

Disenchanted Youth
October 14, 2009

Nearly a year after the election of Barack Obama as president many Americans are still talking about the changes they voted for.

The views of young voters in America were a popular topic at the American Forum, held at American University. “2006 was a critical switch where the 18-29 year old vote broke for Obama by 25 to 30 points,” said David Winston, a republican strategist. Young people, the 18-29 age range, were politically charged during the 2008 election as well, explained Winston.

“Partisan behavior is not an engrained behavior yet.” Said Winston, “Outcomes are what matter to the young people.”  The President’s inaction has been the focal point of media outlets since he won the Nobel Peace Prize. “The president is not popular unless he achieves something” added David Gregory from Meet the Press

Obama’s approval rating has been in decline since August when it was over 65%, in recent weeks the approval rating has been right around 50% according to Gallup polls. Part of this decline may be due to the oversaturation of the president on TV, Gregory. “Obama is the go to guy in the administration,” said Gregory, “he is more engaged in affecting the media narrative then Bush.”

“Obama ran on change and hope, I voted for him, and all his policies so far seem to ignore me, and the rest of the young people who voted for him” said Greg Matletsky, an AU sophomore. Students at colleges across America played a large part in the election. “Young voters made up one fifth of the electorate in the last election.” Said Jose Vargas, from the Huffington Post.

The midterm elections are being watched carefully by both parties, according to a republican strategist, to see if the democrats can sustain the youth vote. “It was really interesting that after Prop 8 passed, the rallies were largely made up of young people.” Even with the technology the White House is using, the message is what’s most important said Vargas. “The comments on Obama’s Facebook from young people are subtle and informative,” said Vargas.

“I want to be more involved in a lot of the political discussions occurring right now,” said John Botto, an AU junior. “It is hard to be interested in things like healthcare though, I’m more interested in things that affect me.”

“Climate change was a missed opportunity for the Obama administration,” said David Corn, from Mother Jones. Young people were active in many green movements, but a green policy is not apparent in the presidential administration.

At a time when the generational gap is widening, according to an NBC study, Obama’s importance to the young vote was unique said Gregory. “They don’t have faith in the government, or the media or banks, but in Obama.”

The Forum, hosted by Jane Hall, a professor of American University’s School of Communication, has been occurring annually for 21 years. The event has been recorded by C-Span, put on the radio by WAMU 88.5, and even streamed live to the internet.

The theme of this year’s Panel was Change+1: Are Young Voters Talking Back to Obama. The five, previously mentioned panelists, David Gregory, Jose vargas, David Winston, David Corn, and Erin McPhee all discussed the topic in a crowded auditorium on the American University Campus.

Last year, the forum discussed the power of the youth electorate, and predicted how important the youth vote would be. No one predicted it would have been a 66% to 32% margain for Obama over McCain said Vargas.