For College Kids, Voting Is So Two Years Ago

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The Obamamania that swept college campuses two years ago, spurring millions of young people to vote, volunteer, and lobby their parents to change their minds, now looks like a bubble that has burst. Democrats argue that the enthusiasm gap between its voters and fired up Republicans is overblown, but the numbers among young voters are undeniable. In 2008, Rock the Vote registered 2.5 million young voters. This year, it's signed up just 280,000. Local registration drives apparently haven't fared much better, Politico reports. The county that's home to 90 percent of the University of Virginia's dorms has registered 2,714 new voters this year, a huge slide from 6,171 two years ago. Likewise, in 2008, new voters numbered 20,000 in the county that includes Colorado State University's campus. A mere 1,200 registered this year. Why have college kids swung back to apathy?

  • It's the Job Market, Stupid Sure, some dropoff in enthusiasm from 2008's historic election and this year's boring midterms, writes Steve Krakauer at Mediaite, but it's not just that Obama's not on the ticket. "While college students, and millions of other formerly mostly-apathetic Americans, believed strongly in the 'change you can believe in,' they haven’t felt the impact of the supposed change in the first two years of Barack Obama’s presidency. For college students (and again, for millions of non-college student Americans), jobs are the most important issue, not health care. The Obama administration chose to make health care the issue during the first couple years, and accomplished some goals on that front. But the job market has not been transformed in the way students likely expected when they excitedly came out to the polls two years ago."
  • Maybe Dems Are Tone Deaf  Several polls have showed flagging interest in the midterms among young people, but the Democrats' latest talking point—that anonymous and potentially foreign parties are funding pro-Republican ads—won't do them any favors on campus. Notes Felicia Sonmez at the Political Fix, "young voters care less than older voters about the sources of campaign ad funding—an issue the White House and national Democrats have put an increasing emphasis on during the final weeks of the campaign. Thirty-nine percent of registered voters aged 18 to 29 said it was important for them to know who paid for campaign ads, compared with 45 percent of 30-to-49-year-olds, 51 percent of 50-to-64-year-olds and 56 percent of those 65 and older."
  • Can Millennials Be Wooed Back with The Daily Show? Jon Stewart, meanwhile, is wildly popular among 18- to 34-year-olds, and the president will make an appearance on Stewart's Daily Show on Friday, with the hopes that a bit of that goodwill will rub off, reports Alex Wagner at Politics Daily. The interview will air days before the election, around the same time Stewart's "Restore Sanity" rally occurs on the National Mall.
  • Even Jay-Z Is Sitting This One Out "Voters: Please ignore the coming electoral meltdown where your party loses control of at least one-half branch of the entire federal government," says Avi Zenilman at Daily Intel. The rap mogul Jay-Z will be stumping for Democrats—in 2012.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.