Live-blogging Midmorning: The youth vote

We did a show along these lines in Denver and, man, was it quiet. Of course, that was summer and the youth vote was still sleeping.

Seriously, is the youth vote real or a mirage?

Our guests are: Jonathan Darman, Senior Writer and Political Correspondent for Newsweek. His essay is called “Ask Not What You Can Do for Barack Obama.”

Jonathan Chavez, cofounder and director of analytics and social sphere strategies. Consultant to the institute of politics at Harvard and coauthor of their 15th annual Biannual Youth Survey on Politics and Public Service.

10:05 a.m. – Kerri is gleeful as she looks at the ages of those already waiting on the phone. Everyone is in their 20s.

10:06 a.m. – Here’s the deal. A Gallup poll this month showed high voter registration among young voters, and that Obama leads in this demographic, but there’s a question of how many will actually vote?

  • What should young voters demand?
  • Have you decided not to vote? Why?
  • What’s the issue that’s at the top of your mind as you vote?

    10:10 a.m. – In the past the “youth vote” has failed to show up at the polls. Chavez says that’s changing because it’s easier for this “mobile population” to register. The cost of turning out an 18-24 year old — for campaigns — was three times the cost of turning out a 65 year old. Chavez says campaigns using social networking has made it much cheaper “to reach this generation than it’s ever been in the past.”

    Tangent time: Check out the Twitter vote report.

    10:15 a.m. Commenter:

    Student loans are outrageous. We won’t be able to own a home in the future. There will be no Social Security for us. Our infrastructure is going to fall apart just in time for us to take care of it. The environment….sigh …. where do I even begin?

    10:18 a.m. – Link and quote. The Sunday Herald says in a nation getting younger, this time the youth vote really counts.

    The late Hunter S Thompson was not surprised. “We rocked the vote all right,” he said. “Those little bastards betrayed us again.” In all his time covering politics, starting with George McGovern’s failed 1972 attempt to surf a wave of youthful enthusiasm to the White House, Thompson had learned never to trust students at the ballot box.

    10:20 a.m. Darman says the youth vote is more engaged now, not just by registering, but they watch more news shows, too. We’re including The Daily Show, right?

    10:22 a.m. – So far “economy” and “health care” seems to be the big issues. Also education. It’s interesting to me that two out of those three did not significantly come up in three U.S. Senate debates in Minnesota. And so it occurs tome that there’s really no mechanism for getting those concerns into the campaign dialogue, even as the candidates are said to be making great inroads in reaching the demographics.

    10:26 a.m. – Can the concerns of 18-29 year olds get into the dialogue. Darman is skeptical and he says — he’s 27 by the way — the issues that demographic is concenred about are not the same as their parents. “We not thinking of them as a special interest group,” he says. He wrote a piece in Newsweek that said young people should not be afraid to ask what a president can do for them. “Get selfish before it’s too late.”

    10:36 a.m. – Here’s the biannual youth survey that keeps getting mentioned on today’s show.

    10:37 a.m. – One issue I’m anxious to examine — do young voters have a sense of optimism to the future? Starting in January, I’ll be hitting 8 campuses of the MnSCU system, blogging every Wednesday, and finding the life stories there.

    10:41 a.m. – Commenter:

    “In WI, I could register same day. Here I found out you have to register almost a month in advance.”

    That’s not true. If you want to register in advance, there is a cutoff. But you can register on Tuesday.

    10:46 a.m. – A young voter talk about the difference between 2000 and 2008. Back then, he says, “it was a good time but didn’t get much done.” More protests, more ‘let Nader vote.” Now, he says, the youth voter is more “rational.” “If anyone turns out, it will be this crop,” he says, sounding like a grizzled voting vet at age 29.

    He says race is not an issue for this generation. A recent survey said otherwise, by the way. The New York Times had a good article a few weeks ago that said while the generation is said to be color-blind, “black” is still a factor.

    10:51 a.m. – Is Daily Show a factor? Eh. Chavez says people who are already engaged are watching and it has some impact — Obama is on Daily Show tonight, but he’s tried to measure the role of satire in a campaign and it’s been difficult.

    • Bernt Stenberg

      I posted this on the last entry on trust and unity, and will repost it here:

      “I know it the next hour hasn’t started yet, but I wanted to share why I think, partially anyways, this election is so important and motivating for young voters. Simply put, McCain reflects the old practices, viewpoints, and attitudes, and Obama reflects more closely the realities of being an American in a “flat” world. Sooner or later the power of the economy and the major influence in politics will switch from the Boomers to the Gen X/Y/Zers, and I think that’s what we’re seeing in this election. We simply cannot survive in a global network as a xenophobic and self-absorbed capitalist leviathan (see: corporate self regulation of mortgages). We must understand that what helps the world helps us.”

    • Kimberly

      I’m a Gen Xer, but if I were a Gen Y voter I would want to vote for Obama because I’d be very concerned that a McCain/Palin Administration + ongoing deployment in Iraq and Afghanistan could = a return of the military service draft. Both McCain and Palin have sons serving in the military, so they would not catch heat for sending “other people’s kids” to war, as W. would.

    • Aaron

      I am ready to sacrifice to help fix the messed up world we currently live in. Please, just admit we are having problems and admit that it might hurt a little bit to fix it. There is no magic bullet for energy, health care, or poverty. But, there are ways to fix them (revenue neutral carbon taxes, universal health care, progressive taxation). Paying taxes IS patriotic. We have a government to do the things the private market cannot. I am a patriot when I help my government help those in the country less fortunate than me.

    • i work for the minnesota public interest research group as an organizer on our No Youth Vote Left Behind campaign.

      the whole point of the campaign is to make sure that young people turn out to vote in big numbers across the state and in this way send a message to politicians that they are a viable voting demographic and need to be listened to.

      from what we’ve seen, many young people are very excited about this election and they want to vote which is in some way surprising because in all honesty, the candidates are not talking to them. for example, we’ve heard plenty about the economy, and yet very little about how it will affect young people with student loans. They’re simply not talking to us.

      i do believe however that young people will turn out to vote in record numbers because of the tremendous excitement that many of them are expressing about this election. the studies that our campaign was based on tell us that young people will vote when they see their peers taking ownership of the process. they will vote when they see their friends voting, and talking about voting.


      we’re working with our students to generate the kind of excitement that can create this cultural shift. our students are holding events on campus; approaching, phonebanking, and texting their peers. they’re including their excitement for voting in their “about me” sections on facebook. and they’re having genuine, honest conversations with their peers about why they find it so important to vote. it’s this tactic that helped us register 15,565 young people across the state.

      sometimes i tell the students i work with, peer pressure works. it got you to smoke in the 7th grade and it will get you to vote in 2008.

      this election has remained one of the biggest topics of discussion they’ve heard echoing through the hallways of their colleges. they won’t risk being left out of the conversation.

    • Krissa

      I think that movement definitely makes voting more complicated for 18-29-yr-olds. I am 23 and have moved 15 times in the last 5 years between 4 different states. This makes voting really hard because the laws are different everywhere. In WI, I could register same day. Here I found out you have to register almost a month in advance. I have found that voting in presidential elections is easy, but finding out about local elections and the candidates involved is almost impossible. If you have any advice on that topic, let me know! I am trying to cram in info about the court justices in Brooklyn as we speak!

    • Bernt Stenberg

      Sorry, but I just have to comment again on the “get selfish before it’s too late” bit they were just talking about. We are not dumb, and I don’t think we are short sighted. Short sighted is the Iraq War. Short sighted is how we’ve handled our foreign policy and the war on terror. Short sighted is allowing banks to regulate themselves in regards to “paper” or “fake” money. And short sighted is using a credit card and bad mortgage based spending to increase our supposed economic wealth.

      The young voter cohort just wants to get rid of all the politicians and policies that led to all this first. Once that is done, I think you’ll find that we have plenty of demands.

    • Michael Peterson

      I think the increasing number of young people seeing political engagement as important, is due to a few things. First, more and more people are recipients of some form of higher education, and one product of such an education is knowing they the guys (or gals) at the top don’t know everything. Second, recalling the 2004 election, I recall a number of young people voting for John Kerry, simply because he wasn’t George W. Bush. This year, many of my peers seem legitimately excited about Obama.

      What I expect from the next president, is serious vision and focus on the future. I feel, and I am not alone, that my generation is being handed the problems and consequences of today, and I see very little foresight being exercised by today’s policy makers.

    • Albing

      What if Generation Y or young people in general had a special interest group like AARP? Would the presidential candidates pander to that group as much as any other?

    • Ross Rives

      I am proud to say that I am a 19 year old first time voter who was able to vote early for Barack Obama this morning. I decided to vote for Obama because of his stances on Alternative Energy and Foreign Policy. When gasoline hit 4 dollars a gallon, I was working as a pizza delivery driver. Needless to say I felt the strain, in fact it forced me to quit my job and sell my car. Each and every American’s fate is directly tied to our country’s ability to fuel its growth through sustainable and non-pollutant means. Therefore, America cannot any longer crusade in the middle east. Our fingerprints are all over the middle east and if we don’t stop meddling in middle eastern affairs and lowering the quality of life throughout the region, we will never be able to put an end to the growing sentiment of anger within the Islamic faith; We are fueling the fire that claim to be fighting. Yet, we continue to pour our money and resources into ineffective attempts to dress up the middle east as our twin brother. I believe that Obama will be willing and able to work with the middle east to cool the volatility in the area, creating a stable, livable, and independent middle east.

    • Ann

      I’m 28, my husbands 29 and we have a 6 year old. I’ve been voting since I was 18, local and general elections, but this will be his first time voting. We are both voting for Obama. And, Palin seriously concerns us.

      We are tired of seeing issues like abortion, gay rights and decisive patriotic-laden rhetoric being used to get people to vote against their and future generations’ interests. And, calling Obama a socialist, has completely turned me off from McCain. That is ridiculous.

      We want long-term problem solving to issues like the economy, health-care, education, social security, climate change and less military spending. Obama’s “intellectual curiosity,” as Powell put it, is what this country needs.

      I am sure an Obama administration would make decisions I wouldn’t agree with, but I am confident that these would be informed and pragmatic. And that’s more than our current administration has done.

    • Christopher

      I know that many young people use Fark for many news summaries, or at least the humorous inconsistencies in some positions.

    • Gailyn

      I am afraid that young people are going to finally get sick of the burden of supporting old, unhealthy, unproductive people. They are bound to ask why they have to pay to keep people alive forever, whey they have already paid so much and have been paying off those same peoples’ debts for decades. I think they are bound to realize that freeing up resources from the end of life to the beginning makes economic sense

    • Tricia

      One young caller said he thought young people would vote for McCain if they really examined the issues. He was particularly enamored of McCain’s $5,000 health care tax credit. “I know people my age can get coverage for that,” he said.

      Sorry, dude, McCain is only offering $2,500 to individuals (and it’s a tax credit, not cash in hand) and it would likely be offset by new taxes levied on your employer-provided care (if you went that route).

    • Jonathan of Victoria

      I am very frustrated at the dishonesty and misrepresentation in both major political parties.

      I am 29 years old, and a resident of Minnesota. I have been following politics and world events since the age of 12.

      I believe that our country is being run into the toilet. While I am not sure I would have agreed with John F Kennedy on alot, it seemed he would have succeeded in backing our currency with metal (silver/gold) had he not been assasinated. I wish he had succeeded.

      On the economy:

      I am disgusted at the misrepresentation of the economy. Barack Obama knows that the economy is bad because of decisions made well before President Bush came to office. Under the administration of George H. Bush Sr. the North American Free Trade Agreement was created in which many jobs went to canada and mexico. Before our economy had a chance to adjust to NAFTA, Bill Clinton signed a trade agreement with China and allowed China to gain US steel making secrets. Jobs began going overseas to China during the Bush administration. There was not much George W. Bush could do to prevent the hemmoraging of USA jobs, except encourage new technology and education – which he did. He signed a controversial 280 billion dollar energy bill which gave research dollars to make advancements in things like hydrogen technology. Conservatives were not happy.

      George W. Bush wanted every american to own a home. Noble dream, which the democrats happily supported, but now we have a foreclosure crisis.

      On the Iraqi War:

      Truthfully it was a multilaterally brilliant move here is why;

      Because of Saddam Hussains’ hatred for Israel and his funding of terroristic operations against Israel and the US – The United Nations put trade a trade embargo on Iraq. Iraq and Kuwait sit on the same huge oil field. Kuwait became a wealthy nation selling oil. This pissed off Suddam Hussain, so he invaded Kuwait – which led to Iraq War 1.

      About the time Pres. Clinton created trade with China, China was becoming an industrial superpower. Their need for oil became so great they no longer cared for the Iraqi oil embargo. Meanwhile to help balance the deficit Clinton cut defense spending, and allowed US contractors to sell US tanks and other military supplies to Iraq. (funded by the Iraqi food for oil program – poor hungry Iraqis)

      Soon after, Afganistan and Osama Bin Laden declared war on the US. Nobody took it seriously until 9/11.

      The US could not prevent Iraq from selling oil to China. Saddam was dangerous to the US and with chinese money he would have become a world power and a hell of alot of hurt to the US.

      George W. Bush took hundreds of thousands of Americans out of jobs and sent them to create a free democracy in Iraq. Jobs left vacant in the US by soldiers needed to be filled. The US brought freedom and democracy to an oppressed country.

      Imagine if we didn’t go to war – Iraq became wealthy of chinese trade and created a coalition of middle-eastern countries to invade Israel, and wreak havoc on any allies. Holocaust 2 was avoided.

      Imagine if we left Iraq without first allowing the Iraqi people to develop, grow and secure their new government. They would hate the US for bombing their country then leaving it to be ravaged by Iran and Syria. It woould defeat the whole purpose for going to Iraq. Iraqi oil can fund either a healthy trading democracy or a war from hell.

      Politicians are privileged with knowledge that most voters don’t have, so it is the utmost importance that our elected leaders have the ability to truthfully lead despite popular opinion. It is for this reason that I have always felt that McCain is a “flip-flopper” led by popular opinion and the media.

      Everyone in our government has an agenda, and truth is often lost amongst greed for power. I ask all of you to seek truth, and not emotion.

      Barack Obama IS a socialist, because he wants to take money from some and give it to others.

      Some people will vote for him because he is black, some will not vote because he is black. THIS IS WRONG! I say don’t vote for him because the media has not allowed us to find out who he really is and because he is not being truthful about the economy!

      Taxes should be levied fairly among all americans for all americans to benefit. Two wrongs do not make a right.


      We are only free as long as we the people run the government. Don’t take Obama’s word for it, don’t take McCain’s word for it, and don’t take my word for it. Look past rhetoric and piece together the puzzle that brouught us to today. It is the only way you the citizen can know that your vote counts!