Last week’s GOP victory in the race for former Congressman Anthony Weiner’s old House seat — one that was held by Democrats for a century — has renewed speculation over whether or not President Barack Obama can hack it in 2012. Lately, the media has speculated that Obama’s prospects are grim, and his poll numbers seem to back this view — particularly among the young people whose support propelled him into power.
A 2010 poll showed that only 34% of Americans 18-34 would vote for Obama against an unnamed Republican, while 37% would opt for the Republican. An informal poll of 500 20-somethings with college degrees revealed that though 83% of those polled voted for Obama in 2008, but only 27% are committed to doing so in 2012.
Those who have lost faith in the president are wrong. Youth voters, a key demographic in the 2008 election, ought to come out strongly in favor of Obama in the upcoming election.
In 2008, I was one of the 66% of youth voters, aged 18-29, who cast a ballot for Obama. It was the first presidential election that I could vote in. Like so many my age, I followed the election with breathless enthusiasm, from the coverage of Obama’s historic speech on race in America to Obama girl’s YouTube declaration that she had a crush.
Like the majority of youth voters, I optimistically voted for hope and change. However, unlike many of my peers, I feel that I have gotten both in abundance. I am happy with Obama’s performance, and I unequivocally plan on voting for him again in 2012.
I am particularly happy with his work on the most important issue for young people: the economy.
The narrative in the media has been that Obama has bungled the economic recovery, putting a squeeze particularly on young people entering the job market. Thus, as countless articles express, our generation increasingly lives at home, finds ourselves without satisfying work or work in general, and generally does our part to keep The Real Housewives franchise afloat.
The actions that Obama has taken to ensure that young people do not bear the brunt of the economic downturn are critical. In March 2010, he overhauled the predatory student loan system, signing a bill that increases the number and amount of Pell grants and makes it easier to pay off loans beginning in 2014. His historic health care bill allows young people to stay on our parents’ plans until the age of 26. With these measures, Obama has tackled the most brutal aspects of the downturn for young people — our crushing student debt and lack of health insurance.
In 2008, I voted for hope and change. By 2011, the popular narrative has become that my vote was naïve. In 2012, I hope Obama, together with a sizable bloc of young voters, proves that narrative wrong.
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