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. karrie

    obama does not have my vote.

    December 30, 2011 at 12:46 pm | Reply
  2. Paganguy

    Obama – just like his predecessor G W – is good at campaigning, but can't govern effectively.
    Now he wants to solve the economic problems with another war.
    Broken promises. I am disappointed. I'll probably skip the election this time.
    We have survived G W, we will survive another 4 years of Obama.

    December 30, 2011 at 12:47 pm | Reply
    • sambo


      December 30, 2011 at 12:50 pm | Reply
  3. sambo


    December 30, 2011 at 12:48 pm | Reply
  4. pocketpal

    Do what/say what you want- President Zero is a joke for a leader. 55% unemployment for the youngest ? Give him 4 more years and it'll be 75%.....
    When Bush left office unemployment was 4%...and the economy was booming until Freddie/Fannie destroyed it.....blame it on Bush, but at least this country was working and prospering. Heck, even Clinton, GHW Bush and even Jimmy Carter look better than this do-nothing dud. Unless, of course, you're an i l l e gal i m m i g rant...

    December 30, 2011 at 12:48 pm | Reply
  5. JB

    Obama's first term was just the foreplay.

    December 30, 2011 at 12:50 pm | Reply
    • wawuzit

      Obama will get a second term for sure. The white voter will almost have to vote for the black man running, for fear that he will be called uneducated and racist if he doesn't.. The black voter will vote for the black man running ,or he'll be called unfaithfull to his own race. Hispanic voters know Obama doesn't want to close the southern border so they'll vote for him as well. I won't vote for Obama,but it won't matter. I think the younger people of this country will be the big losers in this situation , at the end of the next four years, China will be the super power, we will be hopelessly in debt, and a European type lifestyle will be in place, at that point , there will be little chance of ever being any different than any other country. The USA will be so liberal and socialistic that it will be pitiful. It was nice while it lasted.

      December 31, 2011 at 6:42 am | Reply
  6. sailordude

    What can the Feds do that is better then the private sector in creating jobs?
    NOTHING! Thats why OBAMA FAILED! The American people always drift off for the Democrat false hopes and lies and away from the bad old GOP candidates, then a sharp GOP candidate comes back and straightens out the mess the Democrats have done and is loved
    as one of the best Presidents ever. Reagan had this happen and next whoever replaces Obama will too!

    December 30, 2011 at 12:50 pm | Reply
  7. rousch15

    I just researched this writer. Capitol Media Partners is a right-leaning organization, so pay them no mind.

    December 30, 2011 at 12:51 pm | Reply
  8. City On A Shining Hill


    Most economists agree that the government at all levels does not cause the economy to grow or contract, and unemployment is not always the fault of government policies. Indirectly, though, due to policy, there is an adverse effect.

    American business owners, paying all the taxes, facing mountains of paperwork with the new health care law (8814 allows small businesses to take a deduction on employees they give health insurance to, but very complicated to figure out-only 20% of businesses are even bothering to take the deduction, for example), and fewer new businesses which hire college grads are starting up due to lack of lending by banks and venture capital.

    The only way our economy will grow is for Americans to spend again, and save, and pay down debt, as well as the government. The 15 trillion dollar defict, fueled by Americans wanting the welfare state, will only grow unless Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid and other big government programs are completely privatized, as they face bankruptcy in a few years.

    So, it is up to us as Americans as to wanting to start new businesses of our own, take the risk, hire out of work Americans, and have the unjust income tax ended.

    South Korea, maker of more televisions than any other nation (Samsung), has an economy that has been growing at 4-12% for decades. Their taxes are very low, especially on business owners, have a limited social safety net and believe in education and hard work. Sinapore also has a pro-business friendly government whose economy has also been booming. Our government? Not as friendly to businesses as it should be.

    We need to follow them, or our economy will contract, rather than grow. Most college grads moving in with mom and dad due to lack of companies hiring on campus shows an economy we should not be proud of!

    December 30, 2011 at 12:52 pm | Reply
    • Dan, TX

      When you say Korea has a limited social safety-net, you need to point out that Korea has totally government-run health care. So no one in Korea, and no business, has to worry about health care costs. The cost of health care is very, very low in Korea, yet the quality of care is considered to be good. Health care is a huge drag on the economy and on the government in this country.

      December 30, 2011 at 12:57 pm | Reply
  9. James Dean

    Hope was can Change to a new leader b/c this guy hasn't got a clue. I voted for Obama in 2008 and that was THE BIGGEST MISTAKE I ever made in my life.
    The GOP will always have my vote in the future. At least we have a job with them as leaders.

    December 30, 2011 at 12:52 pm | Reply
    • jonathan avery

      clearly misinformed this whole thing started while bush was in office we were loosing 700,000 jobs a month before obama took office in jan of 09 after his economic package went thru we started adding jobs not losing them and now we are adding jobs 2:1 i mean it took years 12 years for us to get in this mess and ppl want it fixed in 3 years get real obama has done the best he could and trust me if there was a republican in office this wouldn't be any better it would probably be worst..really want would have mccain done differently

      December 30, 2011 at 1:03 pm | Reply
      • Betrayed by obama

        Lets keep this simple:
        You are an idiot if you believe those "facts" and "figures" ... obama has added only Census taker jobs that lasted a few months. obamacare is responsible for 9% UNEMPLOYMENT ........
        lets NOT FORGET UNEMPLOYMENT IS 9% RIGHT NOW.... even higher if you include the ones that GAVE UP LOOKING for a job.. Get you facts straight.

        December 30, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
  10. Butters

    Mr. Obama is the President of the United States . Elected by vote of the people .
    George Bush jr. is the one president that the country and the world is ashamed of as a leader .
    I still live in fear of the power George Bush jr. just seemingly gave himself .
    George Bush jr. and his executive powers that went unchecked.
    Truely an ugly time of American history .

    December 30, 2011 at 12:52 pm | Reply
    • Betrayed by obama

      Hey Butters You sound paranoid. If you think Bush had too much power, how's about obama suing the states for enforcing immigraion laws, Fast & Furious, Solyndra,invading Libya withour Congress's approval, appointing judges will Congress is out of session........ want a list of items ?
      People like you should WAKE UP to whats happening in this country. Blaming Bush is NOT the answer, fool .

      December 30, 2011 at 1:03 pm | Reply
    • zzzeemer

      I'm not ashamed of Bush – I wish he was back. And all those that I know who did vote for Obama are kicking themselves for believing him. I hope everyone soon figures out that he will say or doing anything to get 4 more years to complete the dismantlement of this great country that he has started.

      January 13, 2012 at 5:07 pm | Reply
  11. City On A Shining Hill

    To all those posting here who believe government should be holding our hands from cradle to grave, consider Chile. This nation many years ago completely privatized their social security system, and all Chileans at age 18 must open a private IRA. As a result, unemployment there is only 5%, as taxes are lower, there is more money for banks to lend and businesses to expand and hire, and they have a larger nest egg in retirement than Americans do with government social security.

    But, that is out, of course. Well, we will pay the price!

    December 30, 2011 at 12:58 pm | Reply
  12. UhOh

    Also...a lot of the younger vote is going Ron Paul's way

    December 30, 2011 at 12:58 pm | Reply
  13. Betrayed by obama

    What happened to all those promises he made ? He was suppose to be transparent! He was suppose to end the deficit in the first 2 years, (not) he was suppose to cut the budget (doesn't have a budget) he was suppose to end the wars (started a new one, Iraq war ended after 10 years by the Bush rule)..there were SO MANY promises that he didnt even come close to making happen. He really is too niave to be our leader. Maybe michelle will be proud of her country when we are too broke to buy any food ? Get out Obama! I'll take any nominee the GOP comes up with . Thank You CNN FOR REPORTING THIS STORY.

    December 30, 2011 at 12:58 pm | Reply
  14. Ray

    People need to remember the facts of who did what!!!!

    This is just a History lesson. I am sending it to all regardless of party . I bet I know who wouldn't read it - those afraid of the truth. It is history and nothing can change it.
    The day the Democrats took over was not January 22nd 2009, it was actually January 3rd 2007, the day the Democrats took over the House of Representatives and the Senate, at the very start of the 110th Congress.

    The Democratic Party controlled a majority in both chambers for the first time since the end of the 103rd Congress in 1995.

    For those who are listening to the liberals propagating the fallacy that everything is "Bush's Fault", think about this:
    January 3rd, 2007, the day the Democrats took over the Senate and the Congress:
    The DOW Jones closed at 12,621.77
    The GDP for the previous quarter was 3.5%
    The Unemployment rate was 4.6%
    George Bush's Economic policies SET A RECORD of 52 STRAIGHT MONTHS of JOB CREATION!

    Remember that day...
    January 3rd, 2007 was the day that BarneyFranktook over the House Financial Services Committee and Chris Dodd took over the Senate Banking Committee. [THAT'S TWO ROOSTERS LET LOOSE IN THE HEN HOUSE!!!]
    The economic meltdown that happened 15 months later was in what part of the economy?

    THANK YOU DEMOCRATS(especially Barney) for taking us from 13,000 DOW, 3.5 GDP and 4.6% Unemployment...to this CRISIS by (among MANY other things) dumping 5-6 TRILLION Dollars of toxic loans on the economy from YOUR Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac FIASCOES!

    (BTW: Bush asked Congress 17 TIMES to stop Fannie & Freddie -starting in 2001 because it was financially risky for the US economy). Barneyblocked it and called it a "Chicken Little Philosophy" (and the sky did fall!)

    And who took the THIRD highest pay-off from Fannie Mae AND Freddie Mac? OBAMA
    And who fought against reform of Fannie and Freddie?
    OBAMA and the Democrat Congress, especially BARNEY!!!!
    So when someone tries to blame Bush...
    Bush may have been in the car but the Democrats were in charge of the gas pedal and steering wheel they were driving the economy into the ditch.

    Budgets do not come from the White House.. They come from Congress and the party that controlled Congress since January 2007 is the Democratic Party.
    Furthermore, the Democrats controlled the budget process for 2008 & 2009 as well as 2010 & 2011.

    In that first year, they had to contend with George Bush, which caused them to compromise on spending, when Bush somewhat belatedly got tough on spending increases.

    For 2009 though, Nancy Pelosi & Harry Reid bypassed George Bush entirely, passing continuing resolutions to keep government running until Barack Obama could take office. At that time, they passed a massive omnibus spending bill to complete the 2009 budget.

    And where was Barack Obama during this time? He was a member of that very Congress that passed all of these massive spending bills, and he signed the omnibus bill as President to complete 2009. Let's remember what the deficits looked like during that period:
    If the Democrats inherited any deficit, it was the 2007 deficit, the last of the Republican budgets. That deficit was the lowest in five years, and the fourth straight decline in deficit spending. After that, Democrats in Congress took control of spending, and that includes Barack Obama, who voted for the budgets.

    If Obama inherited anything, he inherited it from himself.
    In a nutshell, what Obama is saying is "I inherited a deficit that I voted for,and then I voted to expand that deficit four-fold since January 20th."

    There is no way this will be widely publicized, unless each of us sends it on!
    "The problems we face today exist, because the people who work for a living are outnumbered by those who vote for a living."

    December 30, 2011 at 12:58 pm | Reply
  15. Hannigan

    No I am 24 and have a job. I haven't given up on Obama we only gave Bush 8 bloody years. To destroy what it took Clinton only eight years to build. As far as I can see we made it out of the recession. An ah it's those republicans in congress who are screwing up the works. The dude ended a war so many wanted over. An took a back seat on Libya also he found Osama. America is better off and he has a year to go. The GOP can go home I think all of them are clowns.

    December 30, 2011 at 12:59 pm | Reply
    • UhOh

      Some day you'll grow up (hopefully) and find out that it wasn't until the GOP got the majority when Clinton was in office and worked with him to balance the budget to turn things around and that the money that this president is idiotically spending money on pet projects that go bankrupt, legislation that only feeds the gravy train of politicians and doesn't help individuals long term or grow the economy and his ideological stance is going to leave you a whole lot poorer than your parents ever were.

      December 30, 2011 at 1:14 pm | Reply
    • Jabba

      Actually Bush set the date to end the Iraq war, Obama just followed through.

      December 30, 2011 at 1:33 pm | Reply
  16. snap

    I think attention should be paid to WHY student debt is such a problem – and it's more than the unemployment rate in the 18-29 age group. Why is there the need for so many remedial classes at the college level after 12 years of taxpayer paid el-high education? Why do professors receive such cushy salaries, healthcare and retirement while working markedly less than 8-5 even four days a week? Why does no advisor share with students that a major in the life cycle of emus or the mores of the Etruscans is unlikely to open up a great number of potential employment opportunities? Anyone ever discuss that roofers, plumbers, electricians, mechanics, welders are in constant need and do not require years of expensive college education? The higher education propagandists have feathered their own nest by convincing the public that college is a must.

    December 30, 2011 at 12:59 pm | Reply
  17. nvtncs

    To those complaining about Obama being inexperienced, here are some facts:
    – Nobody has any experience being president, before being president. Some presidents learn being president faster than others.
    As for being experienced, Obama now has more experience being president than any of the republican candidates none of whom has ever been president.
    And here is my opinion. If re-elected, Obama, having nothing more to lose, will be much more forceful in carrying out his agenda of fighting for the middle class than in the first term. Hopefully, we'll have a democratic majority in the house, so Obama can get more things done.
    Obama has shown much restraint in Libya and I am grateful for that. I believe most Americans are war weary and chances are that a republican president is much more hawkish than a democratic president. I am also grateful for Obama getting out of Iraq; what a terrible waste of lives and resources under Bush!

    December 30, 2011 at 1:00 pm | Reply
  18. Will

    "Have the youth given up on Obama?" Yes, he advertised himself as a "change" candidate but then just ended up being Bush with brown skin. The only reason the right don't like him is because while he's a Corporatist Plutocrat, he isn't a BIG ENOUGH Corporatist Plutocrat for them.

    We want someone who ***IS NOT*** a Corporatist, not somebody who's slightly less of a Corporatist than their opponent.

    December 30, 2011 at 1:01 pm | Reply
  19. Oldfan

    Youth? Hasn't everyone given up on him by now?

    December 30, 2011 at 1:02 pm | Reply
  20. Alcat

    Question on the "just 55.3 percent of Americans between 16 and 29 have jobs"...anyone know where this comes from? the link is to another article that doesn't cite a real source. Kids 16, 17 and 18 are likely still in high school (hopefully) and even people through age 22 are ideally in college. If anyone knows more details or a real citation on this statistic please post!

    December 30, 2011 at 1:02 pm | Reply
    • Betrayed by obama

      Yes, please include those people that have GIVEN UP LOOKING FOR A JOB as well, ok ?

      December 30, 2011 at 1:07 pm | Reply
  21. Frank

    Amazing amount of bad information here. This disrespect for our duly elected (whether you like it or not) President is a sign of ignorance. He has done very well to avoid another Great Depression, the economy has had 23 straight months of private sector job growth, we got both Bin Laden and al-Alawi with no lives lost, we helped transform the Middle East with no troops on the ground, and we are out of Iraq. All this in the face of nonstop GOP obstructionism and cloture threat. And the simple truth is that GOP presidents in the past has been responsible for massive increases in the national debt. Fact, period.

    December 30, 2011 at 1:03 pm | Reply
    • Betrayed by obama

      obama has increased the debt more in his 3 years THAN ALL OTHER POTUS's COMBINED, yet you post those remarks. He was duly elected and will be duly jerked from office in January 2013...

      December 30, 2011 at 1:09 pm | Reply
      • Frank

        You are simply wrong. Try locating facts on a web site by Googling "growth of national debt by President" since you presume that you are being lied to. Only a fool does that.

        December 30, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
      • Betrayed by obama

        And only Frank makes up his own facts. YOU need to google "Debt by POTUS"

        December 30, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
    • Reason and Logic

      -The president spent $787 billion on job growth and infrastructure revitalization, and the unemployment rate has remained steady at 9-10%.
      -After prancing around for the cameras on day 1 of the job to close G.I.T.M.O., he decided to keep the military prison open. Eavesdropping, and interrogation tactics implemented by the previous administration, which Barack Obama vehemently detested during his campaign lead to the detection, and infilitration of Osama Bin Laden. No to mention the authorization of unilateral military actions into Pakistan.
      -Increased troop presence in Afghanistan, bombing of Libya, bombing in Pakistan, instability in Iraq; so much for the Nobel Peace Prize.

      In conclusion despite having a democratic Congress the first two years in office, Barack Obama with his immaturity and inexperience has fallen out of favor even with his own party. The last time the nation had a surplus was with a republican controlled congress under Bill Clinton; for those not familiar with government policy, the Congress creates, and approves the Budget!

      December 30, 2011 at 1:13 pm | Reply
  22. Alcat

    Corporatist – good word.

    December 30, 2011 at 1:04 pm | Reply
  23. R.B.

    I would rather have my tax dollars go to paying Jon's student loans than pay for illegals and lazy American welfare leeches (and I mean the ones who can work, but choose not too, not the folks who are temporarily down and out). At least Jon is trying....and it would be cheaper.

    December 30, 2011 at 1:04 pm | Reply
  24. Reason and Logic

    The United Kingdom is moving away from a universal health care system for privatization.
    Greece has a 40+% income tax, and is on the brink of economic collapse.
    Meanwhile the United States under the leadership of his majesty Barack Obama enacts a universal health care system, and continually thinks that levying more taxes, while less people are working, and relying on government subsidies is a solution to our economic woes.

    Reliance on government will never foster progression, but herd the weak and feeble. This is what our current leadership wants, because that is the key to power, not progression, for which they could care little about.

    December 30, 2011 at 1:04 pm | Reply
  25. MalibuChick

    Yes, college tuitions are high, but they are not exactly a secret to those taking out the loans. There are many ways to go through college (yes at high tuition) but to also plan your finances better. The tuitions are going up at a crazy rate, but that is a separate issue than the fact that people knowingly tool out loans. I know people who took out over $100k in loans tom pay for school. That's nuts, but their responsibility. It is not my responsibility to pay for that stupid choice.

    December 30, 2011 at 1:05 pm | Reply
  26. indie1013

    This is the most slanted article I have ever read! Of course 55% of 16-29 years olds are unemployed, 16-22 are in school and most don't have to work. This author is an idiot. And of course older people have more money, we have been acquiring assets for decades. He quotes what ratio differences in Reagan's time but not the current ratio - just says it's greater - right! I don't believe it because if he knew the stats he would have included them. Young people are discouraged, but they are smart enough to know that this is residual effects of Bush and Obama's policies are finally starting to take hold and ... as expected things are improving.

    December 30, 2011 at 1:06 pm | Reply
  27. gc

    no need to wonder why CNN is going broke printing this bilge. i guess it appeals to the bottom 20% and the public employees that want to keep them there.

    December 30, 2011 at 1:06 pm | Reply
  28. db

    one reason more and more college grads are unemployed or underemployed is that they're choosing majors that just are not marketable in the areas they want to live.

    December 30, 2011 at 1:06 pm | Reply
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