Have the youth given up on Obama?
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December 30th, 2011
09:03 AM ET

Have the youth given up on Obama?

Editor's Note: Brad Chase is a partner with Capitol Media Partners, a Los Angeles-based communications and public affairs consultancy.

By Brad Chase - Special to CNN

In 2008, the youth vote helped sweep Barack Obama into office.  Americans 18-29 spread the word on social media, energized fundraising and went to the polls.

In 2012, the youth vote is moving on and throwing those omnipresent “Hope” bumper stickers and t-shirts in garbage bins.

Not because of apathy.  Not because another candidate generates more enthusiasm.  Not because of his character.  Not because they think voting is pointless.  The 18-29 vote is up for grabs in 2012 because youth can’t afford cars to put bumper stickers on and those t-shirts are worn out from too many days sitting on the couch unemployed.

The sobering reality:  just 55.3 percent of Americans between 16 and 29 have jobs.  And earlier this year, Americans’ student loan debt surpassed credit card debt for the first time ever.

Rather than develop a lasting initiative to help young unemployed Americans, the President launched “Greater Together” – a campaign tool that offers community forums rather than jobs.  Rather than provide a bailout to those crushed by the burden of educational loans, his student debt relief program was pathetic – only reducing interest rates by a measly 0.5 percent.

No wonder less than half of Americans 18-29 approve of Obama.

It’s no surprise the President is ignoring millenials.  They’re too poor to donate to his campaign this election cycle.  Older Americans are 47 times richer than the young – a striking generational gap in prosperity that has widened from a 10 to 1 ratio when Ronald Reagan was running for reelection in 1984.  At the same time, Obama is ringing up donations from older voters.  In the first 10 months of 2011, he attended 58 fundraisers – twice the number President George W. Bush attended during the comparable period before his reelection.  That’s overkill when the GOP candidate is still TBD.

Millenials haven’t embraced any of the GOP candidates yet, but there’s a huge opportunity for the eventual nominee to swoop in and win over the youth vote.  They have a short memory, filled mostly with three difficult years under President Obama’s economic stewardship.  The Center for the Study of the American Electorate reports that the youth vote won’t come out strongly this time around, but there’s little doubt the voting bloc is up for grabs to the first candidate who offers up viable policies – not themes and slogans – to address their issues.

To win the youth vote in November, a Presidential candidate could start by:

Creating a limited student debt forgiveness program:  It would be impractical and foolhardy to create complete debt amnesty.  Instead, erase all federal student debt for those with more than $30,000 in federal student loan debt and cut the bill by 10 percent for those with debts under that threshold.  That still leaves students accountable – no free rides – but it eases the crushing burden on millions of millenials.  H.Res. 365 by Rep. Hansen Clark (D-MI) was a well-intentioned (albeit pie-in-the-sky) call for debt relief and it’s a good starting point for future efforts.

Controls on Predatory Lenders/ServicersMost students need their parents to co-sign loans and then take care of the bills themselves.  But private loan servicers like American Education Services (AES) have no oversight and resort to bully tactics to threaten students’ parents with credit rating ruin as little as five days after a bill comes overdue for the first time.  Not even credit card companies are that ruthless.  There’s nothing more humiliating and stressful to students or parents than getting harassed for short-term delinquencies.  There’s no need for a Credit Protection Financial Bureau, just more oversight on predators like AES.

Allowing Student Loan Discharge in Bankruptcy:  In 2005, bankruptcy law changed to specifically exclude private student loans from being discharged in bankruptcy proceedings.  Young adults don’t want the headache or stigma of going bankrupt, but sheltering private lenders at the expense of recent graduates is wrong.  H.R. 2028 will restore pre-2005 terms – support for the bill would be huge in generating millennial votes.

The ancillary benefit of student debt relief is a stimulus to the economy.  Older Americans might say that giving money back to the young is an invitation to run up debt again, but millenials have watched their parents get underwater with mortgages and credit cards – it’s the pot calling the kettle black to deny young adults their own bailout.  The stimulus will come in the form of solid and responsible purchases:  a first couch, a first bed, a first set of dinner plates.  This isn’t reckless spending, it’s the type of economic stimulus that Obama’s much-touted stimulus should have been.

Without the youth vote in 2008, the President would have lost North Carolina and Indiana – a 26 delegate swing equal to nearly 10 percent of the 270 electoral college votes needed to win.  The 2012 election promises to be closer and the swing of the youth vote could be enough to tip the balance.  It’s time the President did some soul searching on his feelings toward the youth vote.  And he better do it soon, because the GOP candidate is waiting in the wings and won’t hesitate to take the youth vote.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of Brad Chase.

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Topics: 2012 Election • President Obama • Youth

soundoff (996 Responses)
  1. dan

    I've given up on Congress.

    January 3, 2012 at 8:04 pm | Reply
  2. Stizz in the biz

    The youth have not left Obama. Take it from a 26 year old long time supporter since Barack was in the senate!! 🙂

    January 4, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Reply
  3. shloma

    "erase all federal student debt for those with more than $30,000 in federal student loan debt and cut the bill by 10 percent for those with debts under that threshold."

    This is a silly plan. As someone with $25k debt, I'd have to ask myself, why not just stay in school another year so I can hit the $30k threshold and be forgiven? It should be a percentage reduction at all levels, possibly greater percentage with higher debt, but not as drastic as a simple line.

    January 4, 2012 at 2:19 pm | Reply
  4. Beth


    I'm trying to reach a GPS producer (see last paragraph and video) or an OutFront producer, regarding CNN's story on John Paul DeJoria and his work in Appalachia. I think both you and he will be glad we made contact.

    Here's a link to a project video, which will help you understand. I believe it was posted live the same/previous date your story aired. You must listen to the entire piece to understand the potential economic benefit to the people of the region.

    This project adheres closely to the mantra espoused by Fareed Zakaria, when he states that Americans must produce unique items which cannot be outsourced ... because they have been individually created by those who have placed their stamp of authorship upon each item.

    Thanks so much! –

    January 4, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Reply
  5. ddblah

    This is a good article. But, the President did try to pass a loan-forgiving program for college kids. Congress blocked it!

    January 5, 2012 at 1:46 pm | Reply
  6. Marc

    The only GOP candidate that can sweep the youth vote is Ron Paul. Romney sure won't impress us young people.

    January 5, 2012 at 5:07 pm | Reply
  7. brandt

    The president is trying to pass bills, Congress is blocking everything. I blame the Do Nothing Congress.

    January 5, 2012 at 7:35 pm | Reply
  8. Zimran

    There is only one reason why some people do not want Obama. This is not because he is a successful man,but because the dangerous seeds that their parents of long ago planted in their minds.
    Gone are the dark days. Let us accept that when someone is genuinly success, it is because that individual has passion for what they want.

    January 6, 2012 at 3:07 am | Reply
  9. youth-1n-am3rica

    "Have the youth given up on Obama?"... Oh yes we have! And the rest of the politicians. These guys are too busy looking at themselves as glorified rock stars celebrities, that they have forgotten about the people and history of a great nation they are supposed to protect. It's all a big joke, and it's on us to pay for.

    January 6, 2012 at 6:23 am | Reply
  10. Emeka

    During his acceptance speech, he reminded Americans that the economy is going to get a lot more worse before it shows signs of healing. I believe the former administration destroyed the economy more than when Clinton came in. The administration of Bush (Jr) fretted away more money fighting wars they had no business in than previous governments put together. American should endeavour to bear with Obama, who in my opinion should put his foot down in facing congress on programs that impact positively on the youths.

    January 6, 2012 at 7:36 am | Reply
  11. Jimmy Cracorn

    I am 32 and gave up on him 1 week ago when he signed into law the indefinite detention of U.S. citizens same goes for the 3/4 of congress who voted in kind.

    January 6, 2012 at 12:40 pm | Reply
  12. the shiia and iran doing the killing in iraq it was proven

    جيفري فيلتمان نائب وزيرة الخارجية الأمريكية يؤكد اَن قادة العراق السياسيين قادرون على تدارك الازمة الراهنة في البلاد من دون اية مساعدة خارجية
    نبيل العربي يحذر من القضاء على فرص تحقيق مصالحة حقيقية في العراق ويندد بتفجيرات الخميس الدامية
    رئيس اقليم كردستان العراق يشدد على ان الاكراد لن يشاركوا في اي حكومة قائمة على اساس تهميش المكونات العراقية الاخرى
    البارزاني يحذر من انه في حال إستمرت المشاكل السياسية ولم يجد الائتلاف الحاكم برئاسة المالكي حلولا سريعة فإن الاكراد سيقيّمون كل الاحتمالات

    وكلاء المرجع الديني محمد صادق الصدر في النجف يحذرون من مغبة دخول عصائب أهل الحق في العملية السياسية ويتهموها بممارسة القتل حتى اليوم

    وكلاء المرجع الديني محمد صادق الصدر في النجف يحذرون من مغبة دخول عصائب أهل الحق في العملية السياسية ويتهموها بممارسة القتل حتى اليوم
    دبي-الشرقية 7 يناير: حذر عددٌ من وكلاءِ المَرجع الديني مُحمد محمد صادق الصدر في النجف من مغبةِ دخول ِ عصائب أهل الحق في العمليةِ السياسيةمشيرين إلى أن العصائبَ ارتكبت جرائمَ ومازالت تقتل وتُشرد وتُساوم وتَبتز.وقال عددٌ من وكلاء وطلبةِ السيد محمد الصدر في بيان ان الحديثَ عن المقاومة ومواجهةِ القوات المحتلة بعيدٌ كلَ البعد عن عصائبِ أهل الحق وأفعالِها وان العراقيين لن يَنسوْا ما فعلته العصائب من جرائمَ ومازالت تفعل من قتل ٍ وتشريدٍ ومساومة ووصفوهم بأنهم حية ٌ مَلمسُها ناعمٌ وسُمُها قاتل.. واتهم البيان العصائبَ بقتل ِ عددٍ من منتسبي الأجهزة الأمنية في النجف والديوانية بحجةِ حُرمةِ الانتماء فضلا على تنفيذِ 5337 عملية ً استهدفوا فيها الأبرياءَ بضمنِها اغتيالُ النائب عن الكتلة الصدرية صالح العكيلي.

    January 8, 2012 at 2:35 am | Reply
  13. Deanna

    Obama 2012. A vote for any of these GOP clowns is a waste.

    January 8, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Reply
  14. Coach Lew

    Why wouldn't the youth give up on him? What promise has he fully implemented except putting us so deep in debt that it will take 20 years to recover. I can't blame it all on him but 3/4ths of it is his bailing outs this and that. No jobs, economy the worst it's been since the Great Depression, our military being cut left and right, no protection at all of our borders, illegals getting the jobs while true American's get none, housing at the lowest ever and that is just stating a few things that he has messed up.

    January 8, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Reply
  15. Jeff

    What a stupid idea the author gave on pardoning student debt...He said that the federal government should erase all student loans that are more than 30,000 dollars but pardon only 10% of a loan that is less than 30,000....That is wacky at best. Why in the world would we reward the student who took more money and cant pay it back? would it not be a better idea to pardon the lesser loan? stupidity at its best.

    January 8, 2012 at 4:20 pm | Reply
  16. Jeff

    Hope and change to a new president...

    January 8, 2012 at 4:22 pm | Reply
  17. notorepubs

    mr zakaria or what ever u are. i dont know how u get paid by CNN.we all know the truth. the prob is not Obama, the problem is the congress. so stop trying to be politically correct, and say it as it is. Obama 2012

    January 8, 2012 at 10:30 pm | Reply
  18. David

    I have lived outside the US since 2006 if not only a small part due to the reckless policies held by the Bush administration. I voted for Obama while living in Prague and initially was infatuated with his message of hope and change. Four years later not much has really changed. Most of the key issues he vowed to act upon he either broke or were so far compromised that for him to claim change is a political white lie.

    Think about it. The US's image was completely soiled by the end of GWB's 2nd term. How much control did he actually have? With Rove and Cheney behind the scenes Bush was nothing more than a silly cowboy image people associated their feelings with.(love or hate) Most in the US and nearly all around the world grew to despise him.

    So what did the US need? A complete presidential makeover.

    Democrat or republican, liberal or conservative, they are all the same. Barack is nothing more than a clever marketing scheme. (campaign was named marketer of the year in 2008).

    Bush was southern-white, hailing from a distinguished political family who happened to be extremely inarticulate.

    Obama is none of these. His young, hip image showed him nailing 3 pointers and chilling with celebs in the White House. His multicultural background drew the attention of the entire world who labeled him the savior of America.

    Obama appeared at a time when Americans wanted to distance themselves as far away as possible from anyone slightly resembling Bush. I being one of those Americans was proud to tell my European friends who I had voted for.

    But in the end, how much different is he? He signed the same tax cuts which Bush implemented and to this day still has not closed Guantanamo. This man wins the Nobel Peace prize and turns right around and authorizes military strikes in Libya? Why not intervene in Darfur as soon as he assumed office? And now with his "reluctant" signing of the NDAA authorizing the lawful detention of American citizens without trial, he is nothing more than a high official guilty of treason.

    The United States system is fundamentally wrong. Until something is done to get the money out of politics and open up the democratic system to truly represent us all it really doesn't matter who the hell you vote for. The policy of one president versus another will still always be dominated by a veiled group of Washington insiders who main concern is the well being of corporations and maintaining the status quo.

    Obama is nothing more than a common branded item. If Bush was Dr. Pepper, Obama is Mountain Dew. Both contain the same amount of sugar and are just as bad for you.

    Why should we vote? Really, seriously, why?

    Maybe the youth are just living in a constant state of disillusion.

    And I would throw my support behind Ron Paul, but I am left wondering: "Why the heck is he a republican?" I agree mostly with his views on the direction this country has been going, but then at other times his incomprehensible babble is reminiscent of Ross Perot.

    So what do we do? Simple answer seems to ride Obama out another 4 years. But to tell the truth I couldn't be bothered to go to the trouble to send in an absentee ballot this year...

    “The attainment of an ideal is often the beginning of a disillusion” - Stanley Baldwin
    "The truly enslaved are those who falsely believe they are free" - Goethe

    January 9, 2012 at 4:52 am | Reply
    • Crocker

      I hope your apathy isn't contagious.......

      January 9, 2012 at 9:25 am | Reply
  19. Crocker

    The youth? How about the old? Together we can get this guy out of our house.

    January 9, 2012 at 9:18 am | Reply
  20. Dmill

    Obama is destroying our rights. NDAA look it up. RON PAUL 2012!!!!!

    January 9, 2012 at 11:46 am | Reply
  21. Ron Paul 2012!

    The youth haven't given up on Obama – they just grew up.

    Most people I know support Ron Paul.

    January 9, 2012 at 1:52 pm | Reply
  22. kebcarerra

    Ron Paul is the one that is labeled "dangerous" and for good reason . He will cut back on the welfare for the rich with their military industrial complex . Vote Ron Paul the real threat for change and hope .

    January 9, 2012 at 2:34 pm | Reply
  23. Fabio D

    I am 15 and i hate how Obama is running the country right now. he should have never been elected it would have been better if McCain had won. Obama was too new and basically was not ready to be president. we need someone like Ron Paul in office 🙂

    January 9, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Reply
  24. jc

    None of these candidates are fit to be prez.

    January 10, 2012 at 7:12 pm | Reply
  25. hoop

    All of America has given up on this failed president.

    January 11, 2012 at 9:12 am | Reply
  26. hoop

    Obama has done for America what Zakaria did for Newsweek. Total failure.

    January 11, 2012 at 9:32 am | Reply
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