Live-blogging Midmorning: The young voter analyzed


(It’s a 4:30 a.m. wake-up call for MPR’s Midmorning staff. Producers Nancy Lebens and Chris Dall prepare for today’s show hours before broadcast time. Kerri Miller is working in the background)

I’m live-blogging Midmorning today from (9-9:45 a.m. CT). We’re talking about the youth vote and we’d like to put your views on the air. During the session on election reform the other day, it was fascinating how much of the effort is tied to the young voter. Why? Because the young voter isn’t as committed to voting, according to research. They’re impatient, they move faster in the world, and if the voting process doesn’t go smoothly, they’ll move on and go do something else.

And yet, the political parties are courting the youth vote.

If you have a view to share with the world, type it up below. Because Midmorning this week is being broadcast in several markets, it would be great if you’d indicate where you’re from.

Our guests are: Molly Andolina, associate professor of political science at DePaul University; Robert Biko Baker, executive director of the League of Young Voters;

Justin Rockefeller, political activist, and co-founder and National Program Director of Generation Engage; and you.

9:05 a.m. – I’m listening to Kerri and the guests talking off-air. “How long are we on for?” one of the guests asks. “About 40 minutes,” Kerri says. “Wow! Thorough,” came the reply.

9:10 a.m. – Justin says “this time around is different” regarding the youth voter. We were told it would make a difference in ’04; it didn’t. He says New York is one of the places where it’s difficult to get young people to turn out.

Minnesota is one of the places where young people do turn out. Baker says same-day registration is one of the reasons for that.

Molly Andolina says young people have never turned out since 1972 (that would be me!). Young people are more likely to move around, and less likely to be involved in their communities. The gap in voter participation between young people and old people grew widest for Generation X in the ’80s but they closed the gap in ’04.

9:15 a.m. Good comments already. Social networking is the way to ground young people into the community. So that has to show up this year at the polls if true, right? I was walking down the street yesterday marveling at all of the people who were disengaged from where they were. They were all texting or on the phone. Maybe a young person’s definition of community isn’t geographic. Maybe their community is their “friends on the other end of the message.”

9:17 a.m. – Baker says peer-to-peer networking is the best way to increase voter participation. “We sent African Americans into Latino neighborhoods and it didn’t work,” he said.

“This generation needs authenticity; they’ve been marketed to since birth. They don’t want a politician or a musical person telling them who to vote for,” Andolina says.

9:21 – Krissy from New York City says, “you know how you can put signs in your yard? They have the same thing on Facebook and everytime your friend joins a group, a sign pops up that says ‘your friend is supporting Obama.’

“It works,” Baker says. “This is the 21st century and the tools we use right now are going to be used for the next 20-30 years.”

9:23 a.m. – Rockefeller says face-to-face is still going to be important, “because young people want to get out and socialize.”

9:25 a.m. – Andolina says the current generation is more willing to sacrifice and represents the new “greatest generation.” We’ve got to discussion that. Where’s the evidence that the young generation is willing to sacrifice to the degree that the World War II generation did, as Andolina seemed to suggest?

9:28 a.m. – Rockefeller says the war is “not in the abstract” for young people and remains an issue. Biko Baker says the economy and college debt (he has $140,000 in college debt.Is that usual?) are main issues.

9:35 a.m. – “This generation volunteers more than any previous generation,” Rockefeller says. I need to start seeing some data on some of these generational comparisons.

9:37 a.m. – I want to go back to something Andolina said. “Authenticity.” There’s almost nothing authentic about politics. This convention is a perfect example. Maybe one of the reasons young people don’t engage more, is that they think politics is fake. Comments?

9:42 a.m. – A good exchange between a caller and Rockefeller. “Obama looks like change, but is he change?” The caller, a 16 year old, says she’s seeing much more interest in school in politics than before.

9:44 a.m. – Here’s a link that a guest just mentioned. Generation Vote.

Here’s the link for Generation Engage.

  • Kerry

    I’m a recent college graduate, and when I was a junior in college I can remember the emergence of Facebook. Now everyone references Facebook and other social networking sites. That is the difference, youth have a way to participate and be engaged.

    I am a political nut, and a huge Joe Biden fan, I am able to communicate political issues with my a-political friends because of Facebook, imformal communication that allows people with a little interest find more information, even if that info is from Wikipedia.

    The issues that drive my participation, is the need for strengthening communities, and a leader to inspire people to stand up and make changes happen.

  • Kerry

    Facebook and other such sites is the way to ‘ground’ people in community.

  • Brina

    I recently graduated in May and I now work for a Statewide Student Association in Minnesota. Our biggest priority right now is getting students to vote. I’ve voted in most elections that I was able to because I feel that its vital to getting to voice your choice in who our president will be.

    Minnesota has the best voter turn out rates for all ages because of the ease of voting here. We have same day registration as well as you can vouch for someone who lives within your ward, i.e. the dorms. I don’t believe that students are just completely uninterested, it’s that it’s never felt accessible to them. As you talk about Facebook, this is a perfect example of engaging students in a manner in which they understand and enjoy. Students for one of the first times have become interested because the information is being given to them within their avenues that they frequent.

    I hear the question of what is important to students, my thoughts are:

    1)College affordability and accessibility

    2)Current Economy and Job Market

    3)War in Iraq

  • Loba

    No one has yet mentioned the importance of environmental issues to the 2008 election; young people understand that they will inherit whatever world their forebears leave to them and they are looking for a candidate for whom clean energy and the health of the environment is a top priority.

  • David

    I work at a VA hospital. I speak with a number of young veterans returnnig from deployments. These patients are concerned with their educational benefits, healthcare and the economy. Most plan to vote. These young folks are very Internet savy.

    As an older voter and veteran, I find it hard to seperate the war and the economy. The billions going overseas have a great impact on our economy. Anyone who drives a car or goes to the grocery store knows the pain of inflation.

  • kerry

    I agree strongly with that!

    I think for me at least, my number #1 issue is finding and strong leader. authenticity, trust and an articulate speaker are necessary qualities in a leader.

    I think this generation thirsts for a leader who asks them to step up and contribute! Americorps, PeaceCorps, City Year.

    My hope is that this will be the generation that takes community service and engagement to the next level.

  • Sarah

    I agree that it’s important to get young voters engaged and involved with this election. Obviously may people talk about the importance of Facebook, and other online social networking sites to get young voters involved.

    I think it’s also important to get young voters involved and organized “in-person” as well. This morning on the Today show, Luke Russert interviewed a young woman who’s become very involved with the Obama campaign on his Web site “” Here she can find people in her neighborhood/city that are also campaigning for Obama, and network online, but ALSO organize in-person meetings and events.

    I think its important to get young voters engaged both online and in-person.

  • Joe Schaedler

    The reason the young don’t appreciate politics anymore is that Reagan ingrained the idea that gov’t is pure evil into the national consciousness.

    The Republicans have incessantly campaigned and governed on this principle ever since, while the Democrats have been paralyzed by confusion into defensive stances of acomodation and incapacity.

    Barack Obama is the Dem’s latest chance to resurrect a new era of good government, which would restore the popular faith in gov’t that was shaken asunder in the Watergate & Stagflation laden era of the 70’s.

  • Jen

    I am also a recent college grad from the University of Minnesota as a double major in Global Studies and Political Science. Within my group of friends, we are all pollitically engaged and are educated voters.

    I had an AMAZING civics teacher in high school that got me excited about politics. This, and parents just encouraging their children to vote (and NOT forcing their views on them). I worked with high school youth last year and actually did a study on the youth vote. About half of those studied actually went to the caucuses and primaries in Seattle. The top issues for them was the environment, K-12 public education, and international relations.

    The number one issue for me is the environment. If need be I can make an anthropological argument about it. If we don’t take care of our environment, not only amazing plants and animals will die, but the ability of the human race to live on this planet will diminish as well. This rampant consumerism has GOT TO STOP!

    Number two is not only the war, but our standing on the global stage. We need to learn how to compromise. What seems like it is in our best interest in the short term usually does not translate into long term stability. And George Bush embodies this short-sighted policy. We need a longview and I believe that Barak Omama has the depth to actualize this.

    Young people are interested, just believe in us. All of the media seems to speak down to young people. Don’t they remember that we’re the ones deeply entrenched within academia? Many thoughts and ideas swirling around in our brains, and we’re more open to make informed (and not toe party lines) decisions.

    Thank you.

  • Jen

    it’s early… Barack. I could talk about this topic all day long. Let’s look forward and make this country as great as we all know it can be!

  • A.D.

    I’m a 26-year-old female college graduate, and was talking to a friend the other day (a 23-year-old male college graduate) about Barack Obama’s appeal.

    When my father gets on a rant about Obama (he’s a Republican), one of his favorite criticisms is that Obama backers, especially young people, don’t really know what he stands for. He’s right. And, my friend and I agreed, that’s ok.

    I support Obama, and other than the fact that he more or less follows liberal Democratic lines, I really don’t follow politics closely enough to know where he stands on the issues. That doesn’t matter so much to me. What matters is that he “gets it”. He and his staff have shown ingenuity and out-of-the-box thinking in how they’ve conducted their campaign, and that tells me that if anyone can cut through the sludge and gridlock in Washington, it is the Obama camp.

  • Gay

    What on earth qualifies a younger person to determine authenticity?? As a middle aged woman who is also still quite youthful, I have reached that point in my life where I am starting to claim and understand how my history, my experience and my perspective allow me a much more realistic and authentic view of other people. It is based on hard lessons learned that most young people haven’t yet learned. As a friend of mine put it, I’m not young enough anymore to know everything.

    This is what I fear about an Obama or any other charismatic leader who young people blindly follow. Yes, he apparently inspires young people. But what does he inspire them to do, just follow? Hopefully something more than what he has done which is primarily run for office. Obama will and has already started to prove, sadly, that he is everything that he says he is not.

    These young people need to relearn what I learned as a child but didn’t always understand; that is the importance of respecting your elders. It isn’t a blind respect but a respect for those lessons learned that a young person can’t possibly know. Hope and change are quite shallow words without any substance to support them. They are what we say when we have nothing else but hope.

  • Jen

    Interesting points on blindly following Gav… and my points about being an informed voter were completely negated by the comment below mine. I don’t know about you, but I get the chills when Obama gives his speeches. Sometimes, you just know.

    I feel that he represents me as a hard working American, he knows what it means to be a public servent, (Just finished my AmeriCorps term this July), and he is relatable to me. You never really know if presidential candidates are going to do what they say, so at a certain point you have to simply make character judgements. And I think that he will make the right decisions for our country. Is he going to fix everything? No, but I believe in his abilities-even though he is not as experienced in politics as some of the other candidates. Maybe we need fresh thinking?

    Also, about blindly following: this may be a generalization, but I feel that most republicans just vote for people because they are republican, not because they believe in the candidate.

  • Danielle Annette

    I’m a 25 year old female voter, and I am a McCain supporter. Not because of some blind speculation or celebrity dazzle, but because I’ve read and tried to understand points made by both of the candidates.

    People at the convention are saying that Obama will bring back that ‘Kennedy’ feeling. Unfortunately, all the passion and enthusiasm seems false to me as many of my peers pulling these images forward paid less-than-no attention to what went into building Kennedy into a successful politician. They only see ‘Camelot’. They know nothing about Kennedy’s dissertation on Munich, or of his passion for international politics.

    Our generation trends largely to the ‘futurist’, always looking for the next new thing, and destroying much of what existed before. We want things faster, delivered in byte-size packages that can be easily disseminated.

    Aside from the above, I found it alarming during college to have both peers and professors tell me that my vote was ‘useless’ and that – to change the world – I should not vote. I disagreed with them then, and do still.

    More importantly, if you want change – vote locally. Vote for your city and state government. These are the people who truly enact change on a daily level, but less than 5% of our ENTIRE COUNTRY shows up for these events.

  • daveg

    I think this generation thirsts for a leader who asks them to step up and contribute! Americorps, PeaceCorps, City Year.

    Not to single you out, Kerry, but I’m left wondering why you need to be asked? Jen seems to have found it within herself to join AmeriCorps on her own. Are you saying that under President Obama you would feel better about volunteering than you would under a President McCain, and if so, why?

    I’m a few generations ahead of you so I probably see these things a little differently than you might, but I can’t understand what difference who’s president would make with regards to volunteer opportunities.

    Also, about blindly following: this may be a generalization, but I feel that most republicans just vote for people because they are republican, not because they believe in the candidate.

    I believe that to be true for about 80% of the country, currently split about 50-50 between the two parties. In my opinion, they have it easy. It’s the other 20% that actually do care about the quality of the person that they’re voting for that have the hardest decision to make. At least that’s the way it is for me.

    For me, ethics matter, honesty matters, and after all of that, applicable experience matters. The problem is that ethical, honest people have a very hard battle to get in the position of running for president while maintaining those qualities. I have been dissatisfied with the options we’ve been given to choose between for roughly 30 years now. I am dissatisfied again this cycle.

  • Missy

    I am a 20 year old first time voter. I dislike McCain in fear of him being just like Bush. I wish that I was old enough in both the ’00 and the ’04 Elections, which I followed closely, because I could have made a difference. I hope that young voters realize that it is important to vote. I have not take any poll to show my support. I don’t like polls and don’t think that they don’t really show anything. Many of the young voters are too busy to go to a poll site or don’t have a land-line phone. I only have a cell phone. Maybe, the campaign pollsters should go to places like and I think that they can get the information about young voters there.

    Well mark one more for Obama!!