Does the GOP really have a youth vote problem? If you look at 2008 when Barack Obama was elected, and even 2012 when he won re-election, there was a clear indication that the youth voted in large numbers to elect him, especially in 2008 when they were moved into action by his promise of Hope and Change. During that election, Obama capture a whopping 66 of the youth vote. As the video below shows, there were doubts in 2012 whether Obama was going to get young people to vote, especially when the media kept saying that they have become disillusioned and lost hope in his leadership. Just checkout this PBS NewHour piece:
But as it turned out, Obama was comfortably re-elected, with a significant youth vote. He may not have gotten the same numbers he got in 2008 but he overwhelmly won their vote to beat Romney and hold on to the White House.
The GOP Youth Vote Problem
On the other side of the political divide, the GOP has been dealing with it’s own problems when it comes to the youth. This Washington Times article explains the challenges the GOP face in bringing young people to their fold. If you look at the demographic data, you begin to get the picture as to why this is a concern. Millennials, born between 1981 and 1999, consist of 80 million Americans. They now constitute one-fourth of the total voters today – which makes them a much larger voting population than seniors citizens. According to some estimates, they are going to make up as much as 40 percent of the electorate by 2020. As a result, anyone in politics today has to pay attention to this important voting block and the issues and policies that matter to them.
What do Millennials Want?
Millennials are concerned about issues that matter to them in their present day life. As they get older, those are likely to change, but now that they are in their 20s and early 30s, they are concerned about employment, income security, student debt burden, climate change, and social safety, like food assistance and healthcare that benefits those who cannot afford them. The issue of student debt burden has received much publicity as many millennials have gotten into the workforce and discovered that they are unable to make ends meet due to the heavy student loans they are carrying, especially those who went to grad school and find themselves with careers that can barely pay for their living and food expenses, let alone cover monthly payments for student debt.