The dust has settled from the 2012 presidential election, but analysts are still examining the demographics of the electorate in Barack Obama’s win. This week’s Youth Radio podcast reflects on the mantra of “hope” from Obama’s first bid for office, and how youth sentiment has changed during his first term.
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One of a handful of parties during the Republican National Convention in Tampa’s neighboring city Ybor was hosted by the Rock The Vote campaign, so presumably, it was about politics. Headlining the show was electro house DJ/producer Steve Aoki. There was no doubt Aoki (whose name sits right under David Guetta on Forbes’ “Highest Paid DJs” list) could bring out young folks out in the masses. But for what exactly? Maybe I’m too square to get the point besides just another party.
Most of the crowd, outfitted in everything from go-go dancing outfits to glitter painted Steve Aoki t-shirts (not to mention rave gloves), definitely were not Republicans.
So maybe the plan was to get all the young ragers together and make them sit through a small lecture before partying. Inside the venue however, it looked like your normal club atmosphere. No register stations, no voting information — just drinks, loud music and party people. Rock the Vote and its sponsor Pringles did spring for 25 flat screens showing Rock the Vote and Pringles propaganda throughout the night. I started to womder if this event was connected to the RNC or even about voting at all.
Heather Smith, President of Rock the Vote, told us she’s positive that parties like this are making a difference in an unconventional way.
“You know, you can go to places where they’re hanging out, you can go online, do mobile programs, you can go to college campuses, but sometimes you need to get people together. That’s what we do with our concerts. We get to convey the message of civic engagement and to define what it means to participate. When there’s 2,000 people dancing for your right to vote, it’s quite contagious.”
The club filled out around nine o’clock and excitement built as Aoki took the stage. The crowd, elated that the stringy haired DJ has taken to the turntables, begins to chant “Aoki!.” A perfect moment for a speech. I mean, we are in the middle of the RNC, right? Aoki takes the microphone and says, “I’m doing this for free so ya’ll better go f***ing vote!”
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Turnstyle on Wednesday, Aug. 29th
A version of this story is also airing on NPR’s All Things Considered.
Youth Radio reporter Robyn Gee is in Tampa along with the YR and TurnstyleNews election team.
Paul Ryan was officially nominated yesterday as Mitt Romney’s vice presidential running mate. There’s a lot of excitement about the choice, some of it because of the hope that Ryan’s youthfulness can benefit the party’s image.
When you talk to young conservatives at the Republican National Convention in Tampa about their vice presidential candidate, they’re nothing short of dreamy-eyed. Ryan is about as close to a bona fide celebrity as the party’s got. What congressman wouldn’t welcome the comparisons we heard — to stars like Paul Rudd, Ryan Gosling, and Carson Daly?
Read the full version as part of Youth Radio’s Convention 2012 special coverage.
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Youth voter turnout in New Hampshire is typically among the highest in the nation — on par with that of older voters, according to new research put forth by the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE).
Turnout among voters aged 18-to-29 more than doubled during the state’s 2008 primaries, when President Obama ran for office, CIRCLE research reflects. As the polls are open today in New Hampshire, are we seeing that level of activity this time around? No, says New Hampshire Public Radio reporter Josh Rogers.
I emailed Josh today, inquiring about the possible effects of the youth vote on today’s New Hampshire primary. Here is the result of our conversation:
TURNSTYLE: Young voters in New Hampshire have among the highest turnout rates in the country — on par with older voters. Why is that?
JOSH ROGERS: One thing that facilitates participation by all primary voters are New Hampshire’s election laws. Voters here can register at the polls, and registered independent voters — in New Hampshire we call them undeclared — can vote in either party’s primary. Voters are also not required to show ID.
TS: Youth voter turnout for the New Hampshire Primary more than doubled in 2008 (according to CIRCLE). Anecdotally, are you seeing anything notable today among young voters at New Hampshire polling stations?
JR: While Texas Congressman Ron Paul has the most conspicuous support from many younger voters, I don’t think anyone expects participation by the young to reach the heights of four years ago, when the Obama/Clinton primary brought many young people to the polls, particularly in New Hampshire’s college towns.
TS: How disruptive has the Occupy Movement been at this primary? Any surprises?
JR: The Occupy folks have been around. But apart from a few interruptions at candidate events — chanting, the occasional trombone interlude — and an encampment in a Manchester park, the Occupy Movement hasn’t been particularly high-profile here.
TS: What issues do young Republican voters in New Hampshire seem to care the most about? Are most young voters today actually Republican? (From CIRCLE: Nearly 40% of Young Republican Primary Voters Identified as “Independent” in 2008. … There were roughly 51,000 youth who participated in the Democratic primary in 2008 and 33,000 youth who participated in the Republican primary.)
JR: There are surely many young voters who are drawn to the Republican party but I don’t think, nor do Republican leaders here, that most young voters in New Hampshire are Republicans.
As far as issues go, most young republicans I’ve been talking to say fiscal matters are their top concerns: the national debt, the federal budget, federal spending. Fewer of them support the social issues that are important to many conservatives: opposition to same-sex marriage, for instance.
TS: Is there a decipherable sentiment or trend you are witnessing at the polls today?
JR: Turnout was expected to be fairly high, but I personally saw nothing that leaves me convinced it necessarily will be high. Mitt Romney is surely expected to win. If he doesn’t it would be a big loss. But the race for second does seems to be between Ron Paul and former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, who have both reached out to young people. So youth voters could be pivotal in that respect.
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Since taking office, and tackling a long list of issues, President Obama does not have the same dazzling presence he once had in 2008. Lending a little star power, pop diva Beyonce Knowles has started campaigning for the Obama 2012 ticket.
Beyonce recently spoke with Piers Morgan of CNN about her support for Obama’s re-election (via Rolling Stone):
“I did the first time and I will again,” the singer told CNN’s Piers Morgan, “I think he’s doing a great job. I think he’s fantastic,” she said. “I think he needs another term, he needs more time.”
With the re-election quickly approaching, Obama could use a top artist to regroup his youthful voters for his second election. Many attribute a large portion of Obama’s success in 2008 to the rallying of young Americans to voting stations. According to CIRCLE, 23 million young Americans under the age of 30 voted in the presidential election, with 66% in support of Obama.
As Obama prepares for 2012 and the growing youth voter population, he will need a couple more tricks to recruit the youth to his side.
The National Journal reports that Obama’s approval rating dropped 10 percent since 2008. According to the New York Times, this occurred because Obama may not be as “cool” as he once was in 2008. A professor of politics describes Oberlin students’ judgment of Obama after hosting a symposium on “Oberlin-based Perspectives on the Obama Presidency”:
“It started hot and heavy,” he said. “And with extremely idealized notions. Then a reality dawned in the way that a once charming laugh becomes an irritating giggle: He’s a politician who no longer corresponds to the grand ideas that many students had in their heads about him. And that’s deflating and disheartening for them.”
Now, what is better than having an international superstar to help revitalize young voters? Beyonce has over one billion albums sold, and 25+ million followers on Facebook and Twitter, the Rolling Stone article points out. With such a wide fan base, Beyonce could be a valuable tool for Obama to reconnect with the youth.
Beyonce isn’t new to campaigning. She sang at Obama’s inauguration and inaugural ball in 2009. She also remixed her club-banger “Get Me Bodied” for Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign for childhood obesity.
Now that Obama has Beyonce in his back pocket, could the anthem queen come up with a song for Obama’s campaign? Or better, another earth-shattering music video like Single Ladies? I’ll be keeping an eye out for that.
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