Economic, Foreign Policy Concern, Draw Young Voters

This story was written by Saja Hindi, Technician


As the election draws closer, political campaigns continue to host events targeting youth voters before the November elections.

Some say that youth voters in this election will show a record turnout.

But others like North Carolina State University associate professor in political science Michael Cobb are not so confident with that prediction.

Cobb said he is optimistic about an increase in youth voters - ages 18 to 24 - but having them show up in record numbers may be pushing it.

"Eighty-five percent may say they're going to vote, but that's never been the case in history," Cobb said.

But Cobb said he does think it's feasible that 60 percent of eligible voters in the nation will turn out for this election.And he said he thinks the youth voter turnout will at least be more than in the last presidential election and will continue to increase.

"There are a number of structural things in the environment such as a nation at war, a struggling economy and ... age disparity among the candidates," Cobb said.

However, Peter Barnes, sophomore in forestry management and executive director of College Republicans, said campaign strategy also affected the younger voter turnout in places like North Carolina.

"The massive registrations by more of the Obama campaign but also the McCain campaign have increased turnout because they need to get younger voters to vote for Obama to change the typically red state to more of a blue state," Barnes said.

Gerardo Romero, a junior in textile and apparel management, said he thinks the media played a big role in this election's increased young voter interest, especially because of the economic and foreign policy issues the candidates are discussing.

But Romero, like Cobb, said doesn't think that this will create droves of young voters."There's a lot of people who hear about this and that, but they're not going to vote because they're not into politics," Romero said. "They might just hear different points of view, but they're not going to be more interested in voting."

He did say he expected an increased voter turnout among the younger generation but not a "significant" amount.

Cobb said this is an election younger voters need to be paying attention to, especially with issues that will affect them.

"The financial meltdown on Wall Street should be getting their attention," he said.This meltdown, Cobb said, will affect things like obtaining student loans to pay off schooling and attaining jobs after graduation.

Romero agreed that education would play a big role in this election, especially in regards to cutting tuition costs."Most students are dealing with paying for their education once they graduate," he said.

Cobb said although students say they are paying attention to the issues, "party ID is the strongest influence."

While party affiliations are not genetic, Cobb said, parents do influence their kids' affiliations.

"Students may know a lot about the issues, [but] being informed is not a constant," Cobb said.

And that's where family party affiliations can play a role.

Barnes agreed.

"People will stay with the same party [as their parents], unless they want to rebel and go to the other party," he said.
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