Youth vote will swing 2012 election

10/17/2012 10:00 PM

Dick Simpson

2 Comments - Add Your Comment

The 2012 elections will be decided by white males, women, Latinos and the elderly. But, most importantly, it will be decided by young voters.

In 2008, Obama won when 51 percent of the voters 18 to 29 years old turned out at the polls. When the youth vote dropped (to 24 percent in 2010), the Republicans gained control of the House of Representatives.

This year there has been a nonpartisan effort to register college students to vote. At UIC alone we have registered more than 500 new student voters for this election since Constitution Day, Sept. 17.

There is a direct connection between registering and voting. In 2008 (according to the Tufts University CIRCLE web site), 84 percent of the young who were registered to vote actually did so. Voter registration matters, but what matters even more is the ability of candidates and campaigns to inspire the young to turn out and vote for them.

What do the young, especially college students, care about? The National Student Issues Conventions held in Chicago, Michigan and Texas last week had some answers.

The top five issues on the UIC student agenda this year were:

More student aid for education, especially at the university level.

Public safety, with more officers allotted to street patrols throughout the city.

Funding for charter and public schools.

Development of the economy and job creation.

Positive roles for the government and business in achieving social justice.

Back in 2008, at a similar convention, UIC students also placed student loans, grants and debts after graduation, as well as the state of the economy and lack of jobs at the top of their list. Those key issues for students havenít changed.

However, UIC students in 2008 also emphasized the need for affordable healthcare and support for the Affordable Healthcare Act (which has since been adopted), lowering the legal drinking age to 18 and creating student discounts on Metra. Those issues are no longer as salient in 2012.

Aid for higher education, the state of the economy and the creation of jobs remain top student priorities. At the convention, six representatives from both the Republican and Democratic parties responded to the concerns of students.

The elected officials were U.S. Representative Danny Davis (D-7th) and state Senator-Elect Patricia Van Pelt Watkins (D-5th). They were joined by 4th Congressional District Republican nominee Hector Concepcion; Mark Weimar, campaign manager for 7th Congressional District Republican candidate Rita Zak; and 49th Ward Republican Ward Committeewoman Suzanne Devane.

They responded to the student agenda in starkly different ways. Republicans generally suggested making budget cuts to get the economy moving through the private enterprise system. Democrats generally supported more government aid to higher education and more active government programs ó similar, in fact, to the national campaigns of Obama and Romney. A clear choice.

The key to the outcome of this election is not what issues motivate students. The National Student Issues Convention laid those out rather clearly. Nor did the elected and party officials leave much doubt that there is a clear choice on Election Day. The key is whether students will utilize this election to address their issues, or if they will remain unpersuaded by the promises of either party.

If young people vote in greater numbers than in 2010, Democrats will win significantly. If they stay home, as they did in the last election, there will be Republicans in the White House. And dominating Capitol Hill. Either way, the youth vote will decide this election.

Voter registration is ending, early voting beginning, and Election Day is only weeks away. Young people are still deciding whether or not to vote and for whom.

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By sam from goldcoast
Posted: 10/28/2012 3:27 PM

I believe people shouldn't be allowed to vote until they are at least 25 years old when they see the money that is being taking from their paychecks and wasted by beaurocrats. Its when they have have to pay their own way instead of mommy and daddy. Democrats know this and exploit their naiveity and inexpeirence for their gain. "the most consevative people are those who have something to conserve" ~unknownauthor

By Lainie from Central Florida
Posted: 10/18/2012 9:19 AM

Re: Statement from John Cabello and same sex marriages: My post has nothing to do with this man's political party affiliation. My post has to do with the ugly, despicable, depraved, vile, black-hearted, hateful, truly warped mind of this individual!!!! It's absolutely apalling to think the good tax payers of Illinois are paying such a sick-in-the-head individual to be a representative of their state. This man's vile words are completely UNACCEPTABLE!!!!! In my opinion...every person in the state