Will Young People Actually Vote?

Posted on: 10/22/12 3:01 AM | by Jonathan McKee

In 2008, the answer was a definite “yes.”

In 2012… yawnnot so much.

No one would deny the impact that young voters had on the 2008 election. Fast Company, in their April 2009 issue, named Facebook’s co-founder Chris Hughes, “The Kid Who Made Obama President.” Chris used Facebook to help get young people excited about Obama.

In November 2008, young people rushed to the voting booths, and two thirds of millennial voters (18-30) voted for Obama.

You might remember the history of that past election. Technology was a big part in wooing young voters. In February 2007 Obama officially declared his candidacy, launching MyBarackOboma.com, a social networking site with about 2 million profiles and 35,000 volunteer groups that planned 200,000 offline events.

In May 2007 the campaign took over a grassroots Obama fan page on MySpace with 100,000 followers. It grew to 3.2 million supporters.

In June 2007, the YouTube video of “I got a crush on… Obama,” posted by Obama Girl ended up with 12 million views. YouTube churned out 1800 videos by election day with 110 million viewers.

And now?

David R. Smith just summed it up well in the title of our brand new Youth Culture Window article, Procrastination 2012: The Political Attitude of Today’s Young People. Here’s just a snippet:

In November of 2008, young liberals rushed voting booths with the same ferocity that Lawrence Taylor once rushed quarterbacks. The overwhelming support of America’s youth gave Barack Obama all the surge he needed for an historical victory.

But as far as many young people are concerned today, that was sooooooo 2008….

The Pains of Campaigns
Four years ago, Barack Obama won the presidential election quite handily, in large part because he captured the attention of young voters (ages 18-30). That year, two-thirds of Millennials voted for Obama leaving a much smaller slice of the pie to the elder statesman, John McCain. (The predictions about Gen Y’s tremendous impact on the 2008 election prompted me to write on the subject in January of that year.)

But it’s been a long four years for young people…especially for the young people who voted for Obama in 2008 and still don’t have a job today in spite of now having a college degree. Although President Obama will probably carry the youth vote in 2012, as well, this unfortunate reality has prompted some pundits to label many Millennial voters as “young and restless.”

But maybe the experts should just call them “young and passive.”

Pew Research has just released the findings of their study on young people’s attitude about this year’s election, and it doesn’t look like good news for either candidate