Has Obama 'Abandoned' Young Voters?

Or are those voters just experiencing some youthful angst?

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Young voters feel Obama has "abandoned" them. So reports The New York Times' Damien Cave. "Two years ago, the University of Miami could not get enough" of the politician, and "his face appeared on T-shirts all over campus." Now "free posters of President Obama ... are now refused by students." The man who got "66 percent of the 18- to 29-year-old vote, a historic proportion" is out of fashion among many of those young people who chanted his name, attended his rallies, and turned out to vote in force. Why do they feel like their concerns are being neglected?

  • They Don't Feel Included  Here's the takeaway from Cave's piece:
Many young Obama supporters and volunteers said they had hoped to play a bigger role with the Obama agenda. The campaign had given them structures, for taking off a semester to train and then work in a campaign office, for example. ... Post-inauguration, no equivalent ecosystem has emerged. Some former volunteers said that was inevitable, because governing is inherently less inspiring than a campaign. ... Others, though, said the administration or Organizing for America, the group that grew from the Obama campaign, could have done more.
  • They're Upset Not Just With Obama, But Democrats  The Washington Post's E. J. Dionne, writing about Democratic demographics and country mood swings more generally, offers a reminder that the youth support affected the entire party last election:
Democratic constituencies were united as never before. Young voters were flocking the party's way--those under 30 would cast 60 percent of their ballots for Democratic House candidates--and so were moderates and independents.
  • Ah, Misery!  "Geesh, man up," writes conservative blogger Dan Riehl in response to the story. "I'd rather have kids who didn't vote, than these pathetic sounding mopes."
  • Some Things to Keep in Mind  Peter Levine, director of the Tufts Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, was one of those quoted in The New York Times article. At his blog, he offers a few caveats. For example: "The youth turnout rate ... will not prove that there was anything wrong with the administration's policies and strategies." He also points out that "some young people are engaged, perhaps more than usual for a midterm election," and that "the US has the worst turnout of any major democracy, and the Americans who vote (regardless of age) are unrepresentative of the population." That said, he would have liked to have seen more of an effort to talk to and engage with young activists.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.