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. dragon8me

    It has more to do with legalizing cannabis than anything else. Why do you think Ron Paul is so popular with young people. Half of Americans want Cannabis legal now.

    December 30, 2011 at 10:41 am | Reply
    • dragon8me

      Also, when Obama laughed at the question of legalization at his online town hall he hurt himself more than he'll ever know.

      December 30, 2011 at 10:44 am | Reply
  2. Booyah

    Maybe someday we'll have a president that cares about the people and isn't owned by corporations and the banking cartel but until then it doesn't matter which idiot party you represent. They are both corrupt and horrible.

    December 30, 2011 at 10:44 am | Reply
  3. CHAD C.

    In America we want everything now. No time to wait, the mess the government was in before Obama was by no means a quick fix, change takes time, I have not given up on the hope and change that Obama campaigned on, if you look at the facts he has changed many things for the better, and is working to continue the change. America still has the ability to be the best, we all just have to go out there and prove it, and it is not one persons fault that things have gotten bad. Just like as things change for the better it will not be one person changing things but every single person out there working to make it better.

    December 30, 2011 at 10:44 am | Reply
  4. pepper

    While student loans are part of the problem the housing market is even more of an issue. How about something similar to what you are proposing except for underwater mortgages. If we are for erasing/eliminating debts, it might serve the country and yes the president if he pushed for something like this.

    The banks get bailed out but I didn't see any tricle down-affect to my 400% LTV

    December 30, 2011 at 10:44 am | Reply
  5. DADT

    It is interesting that CNN blocks all my messages where I have words like ********** and use all the programs that are against the US people. Talking about democracy and free speach.

    December 30, 2011 at 10:45 am | Reply
    • ialsoagree

      Hi, welcome to a privately hosted discussion forum where the rules of free speech don't apply because the space is privately owned and operated.

      December 30, 2011 at 10:46 am | Reply
  6. DADT


    December 30, 2011 at 10:45 am | Reply
  7. wheresdabeef

    I have given up on him, where are the jobs? where is my free healthcare?

    December 30, 2011 at 10:45 am | Reply
  8. al

    Obama just simple lair. Bush debt unpatriotic and wrong Obama said. What he is done.? Much more. USA don't have president for 3 years. Clown in W.H.

    December 30, 2011 at 10:47 am | Reply
  9. haha to hope and change

    hows that hope and change working for you, not to good, told you so, we knew obama was a joke in the begining.

    December 30, 2011 at 10:50 am | Reply
  10. Marty

    The only hope and change I want is a new president!

    December 30, 2011 at 10:50 am | Reply
  11. BigTBone

    It's amazing because if you'd take of the anti-obama glasses, you'd see there are plenty of tangible issues that he needs to answer for. Instead the dialogue revolves around hitler, socialism, removal of the 2nd amendment and all sorts of other nonsense that isn't grounded in reality. The GOP/TP made it visible that they have no new ideas, no compassion and no leg to stand on when it comes to moving the nation forward.

    Go to politifact to see the promises made/kept. He is working with an entire congress of pledge signers who have produced zero jobs since november. Obama is at least trying, offering, suggesting things. Not really in my youth anymore – but those that are young now have the most available access to info ever, and you'd have to be blind to not know what's really happened since 2008.

    December 30, 2011 at 10:51 am | Reply
  12. SFVA

    Still a huge Obama fan. No one – not McCann or anyone else could have done better in the last 4-years. The problems Obama inherited cannot be fixed in a single 4-year term. He's doing a great job!

    December 30, 2011 at 10:51 am | Reply
  13. Josh

    yes the youth has given up on Obama! We're still in a war that is doing nothing for America but killing the young and feeding the greed of the old. More and more states are becoming welfare states. He wants to do nothing for our borders. debt is on the rise because private companies are only after profit, and he's letting this happen. Where are these job's he promised, I've only seen the government get bigger within itself. My point of view, he is only taking us down the path to martial law. I can't help but think that we our heading for another revolution.

    December 30, 2011 at 10:52 am | Reply
  14. Feast of Beast

    I've given up on today's youth.

    December 30, 2011 at 10:52 am | Reply
  15. palintwit

    We arrive in rusty 1964 motorhomes.
    We bring our bibles and loaded assault weapons.
    We wear ridiculous clothing and have teabags dangling from our earlobes.
    We carry misspelled racist signs as we stomp all over the White House lawn.
    We believe the earth is only 6,000 years old and that early man walked with the dinosaurs.
    We love the baby jesus the most but we love to boink our cousins even more.
    We believe nascar is a real sport and that Dale Earnhardt was a great athlete.
    We are Sarah Palin's real Americans.
    We are the birthers and the baggers.
    We are the conservative christians and the evangelicals.
    We are republicans. We are morons. We are proud.

    December 30, 2011 at 10:52 am | Reply
  16. albert

    Obama is just like a Ford Pinto. It had terrible performance and reliability, yet people still bought it because they kinda liked the way it looked.

    December 30, 2011 at 10:52 am | Reply
    • Matt in OH

      At least it's American.

      December 30, 2011 at 10:54 am | Reply
      • albert

        Well Obama's a pinto with a Mexican Engine. Very UnAmerican.

        December 30, 2011 at 11:35 am |
  17. Darrill Bell

    I'll bet, if some sociologists were interested in gathering the data, they'd find also that a much greater percentage in this same age group don't want jobs.

    December 30, 2011 at 10:56 am | Reply
  18. Mike in Pekin

    Mitt Romney is my choice. I wanted him in 2008, and will support him again. Why? Because I believe he is the most pragmatic candidate out there. He understands how the economy works. Fiscally, he is conservative, but socially he is a moderate. I do not believe hge would dismantle the social programs in this country, but I do believe he would make them run better. I believe he would work towards setting the conditions for business to flourish again, which is what must happen to create jobs. Only successful businesses hire people, so if you want to create johbs, you have to create a climate for businesses to be successful. He gets that. Finally, I like him because he he is also moderate in his speaking an approach. He does not make wild promises or outlandish statements. You don't get buzzword sound bites from him (Hope and change, 9-9-9 plan, etc), because he knows the issues are more complex than that. He will be a solid, steady, calm leader who, of all the candidates, I believe has the best chance of ending gridlock in Washington. I ask all of you, is the current partisan climate getting the job done? If not, which one do you believe can fix it?

    December 30, 2011 at 10:59 am | Reply
    • palintwit

      Romney is a dedicated globalist who thought nothing of outsourcing American jobs when he was in the private sector.

      December 30, 2011 at 11:11 am | Reply
      • Mike in Pekin

        When he was in the Private Sector, his primary job was to take failing companies and make them profitable again. The fiscal and regulatory environment set by the government determines how businesses make decisions. Good businessmen to not make decision based on what is "good for the coutry", because that is not what they are paid to do. They are paid to keep the company running, and provide a return on investment to shareholders. If the best option to do that is keeping jobs in the US, they will do that. His experience in that area will allow him to promote legislation that creates a favorable climat in the US for businesses to invest and create jobs.

        Bottom line – You can not have jobs without successful businesses. To be successful, businesses will make the decisions that benefit them most. To keep those jobs in the US, the Government has to make it attractive for businesses to do that. There is no other way to build the economy – period.

        December 30, 2011 at 11:36 am |
  19. indigo

    The way most Obama opponents here see things reminds me of experimental goggles that reverse vision - things that appear on the right appear on the left and vice versa. Republican supporters need to get rid of those goggles and see the world as it is!

    December 30, 2011 at 11:00 am | Reply
  20. Mike in SA

    "No free rides"??? If a person has $50,000 in student loan debt and only had to pay $30,000, then he/she paid for 60% of his/her education. The other 40% was a free ride. I paid mine, now you quit whining and pay yours.

    The problem is not the student loan process, it's the exploding costs of higher education which is fed by federally guaranteed student loans and federal education grants. The colleges and universities charge more and more and more because our government will pay them more and more and more. Obama absolutely will not address this eruption of costs (which by the way dwarfs the rise in health care costs). Why won't he? Because the people on that gravy train - college professors and administrators - are some of his staunchest supporters. Obama is not about doing what's good for America by turning off the federal money tap. He's about getting the votes of his ideologues..damn what it does to this nation.

    December 30, 2011 at 11:01 am | Reply
    • Samantha

      And that's the truth. Should be interesting when that bubble bursts...and it will, eventually.

      December 30, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Reply
  21. Change

    This nation has had some great presidents and some mediocre presidents and some very bad presidents aka GWB. But I will not pass up on my chance to vote once again for the greatest president in US history and that is President Obama. I need not say more.

    December 30, 2011 at 11:01 am | Reply
  22. TK


    December 30, 2011 at 11:02 am | Reply
    • indigo

      The only candidate in the GOP field that I would vote for is Jon Huntsman - the one who consistently trails the pack. Republicans won't nominate him in spite of the fact that he is the most sensible and articulate candidate they have, and has the best chance of beating Obama.

      December 30, 2011 at 11:12 am | Reply
  23. Robert

    I give up.

    December 30, 2011 at 11:03 am | Reply
  24. SS

    He lost me with his continuing of the wars, the increase in spending and borrowing, and reneging on the promises he made regarding social issues (drug war debacle in particular, raiding dispensaries, fast & furious, etc.) My support has gone to Ron Paul. Anyone else is and will be a disaster.

    December 30, 2011 at 11:04 am | Reply
    • ialsoagree

      You think Ron Paul won't be a disaster. His idea of creating jobs is closing down 200,000 jobs, reducing corporate taxes and elmininating capital gains taxes, and reducing corporate regulations. That guy will sink this economy faster than a lead slab in the ocean.

      December 30, 2011 at 11:09 am | Reply
    • Tekky

      Yeah that is the way I feel as well. I hear that a lot. Obama is just more of the same. Time to see what someone else can do.

      December 30, 2011 at 11:30 am | Reply
  25. Joshua Ludd

    No, actually I haven't given up on the President who killed Bin Laden, ended the war in Iraq, ended DADT, helped save our auto and banking industries, provided health care to millions of children and other citizens, made sure you can't be turned down for insurance just because you are already sick or have a pre-existing condition, and helped Libya overthrow its dictator without a full scale invasion. He isn't perfect, but I sure haven't given up on him when I look at our other options this election cycle. Who I have given up on is the Republican party that has opposed any and everything he has supported, even ideas that they had originally supported or that they themselves had come up with. Their first and seemingly only goal since he took office is to make Obama a one term president, and you, CNN, have been right there to help them. From this article to the one yesterday that said that basically nothing happened during 2011... and think of how many of the things I listed happened this year in addition to things like OWS.

    December 30, 2011 at 11:07 am | Reply
    • S.

      They're still turning down people with pre-existing conditions and the state level is still exceptionally expensive pool-wise...$600-$1,000/mo on pre-existing for less than 30k a year in Missouri... but it's a step in the right direction. I was never under any delusions it would happen over night.

      December 30, 2011 at 11:11 am | Reply
    • Tekky

      Sure he did some things, I will not say good things because all the "things he did" has to be paid for. He just passed the buck to our children. If you think that is right, then keep voting for him. As for the rest of us, we'll try someone different.

      December 30, 2011 at 11:34 am | Reply
  26. M.E.

    Growing up, everybody drilled the "go to college" mantra into my head. Well, life isn't always perfect and though I was accepted to CUNY, I instead wound up going to community college for a year until things really went down the tubes and I was forced to get a full time job to support myself. I lived in a friends basement for a couple months, but soon found an apartment and began living the standard early-20 something life. That was 3 years ago. Since then I've watched educational debt (something I would have had to take on quite a bit of had I gone to CUNY) skyrocket and seen friends struggling to pay it. Student loans are my fiancee's biggest source of debt and he got off relatively easy. I feel like I missed a bullet with the craziness that occurred as I exited high school that forced me to skip major college. Sure, i definitely want to go back to school as soon as I can, but it will almost certainly be a manageable dream. Sure, I'd love to go to FIDM, but for now I'd like to train and get work as a paramedic so I can at least make ok money and get health insurance.

    As for Obama, I voted for him like every other dutiful kid and yup, huge letdown. But I shudder to think of what McCain would have been like. For now, I'm using all that capitol-H-hope Obama taught me to hope like hell that through some miracle I'll get the chance to vote for Huntsman. Short of that, it's Obama or nutty/sketchy republican of the week and thanks, but I'll stick with Obama over that. C'mon repubs, don't force me to do that.

    December 30, 2011 at 11:07 am | Reply
    • Matt in OH

      Good post. I think this sums up how a lot of us feel. Especially the last part.

      December 30, 2011 at 11:12 am | Reply
  27. brian

    I am actively involved in the Obama campaign, so am admittedly biased. But I find this article curious & suspect its author (Mr. Chase) to be equally biased on the conservative side of the fence. In organizational meetings, face-to-face conversations & social media posts – mostly with people in the age group mentioned – I have seen no indication of a lack of enthusiasm or dedication. The campaign is funded by small donations from private individuals & fund raising efforts are going well. If the chaos & disarray displayed by the Repulican candidates is any indication, Obama may win in a landslide.

    December 30, 2011 at 11:07 am | Reply
    • Brad Chase


      Sorry to disappoint but I proudly voted Gore in my first election in 2000 and was Press Secretary on a Democratic Congressional campaign in 2005. No partisanship here. Don't go claiming bias until you have facts.

      Brad Chase

      December 30, 2011 at 11:29 am | Reply
      • JoAnn

        And even after that you would rather give the country back to a wall streeter who had no shame in Bankrupting 4 companies and throwing thousands of America families into joblessness, while pocketing millions for himself by sending thousands more of our jobs to China... What America needs is less of people like Mitt Roomney and more of Barack Obama...

        December 30, 2011 at 11:53 am |
  28. gman21

    To save the country, reelect Obama and give democrats control of both Senate and Congress. GOP has been killing US for more than 12 years!

    December 30, 2011 at 11:09 am | Reply
    • NudeTruth


      December 30, 2011 at 11:13 am | Reply
      • casper

        cool. GOP has gone from NO NO NO to /facepalm as the standard response in a discussion.

        December 30, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
  29. EK222

    The only candidate on the Republican side who could even get the youth vote is Rep. Paul. Otherwise they will just stay home next year.

    December 30, 2011 at 11:10 am | Reply
  30. MediaStudent

    I have not given up on Obama. I will be voting for him next year because I feel that he is the best choice, and I couldn't care less about who get;s the nomination from the Republican Circus.

    I feel that once we get rid of these obstructionist, partisan politicians, both Republican and Democrat, and get some people into Congress that are actually will to work with each other and figure out the problems that our nation is facing at the moment, Obama can do a lot of good.

    December 30, 2011 at 11:12 am | Reply
    • Jay C.


      December 30, 2011 at 11:21 am | Reply
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