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. Samantha

    Comments are proof positive of the unemployment figures in article....too many people out of the workforce for too long....

    December 30, 2011 at 1:07 pm | Reply
  2. Lucy

    Thankfully, the young people in my neighborhood are coming around to the Republican viewpoint. They finally understand that Socialism is the enemy of the American dream.

    December 30, 2011 at 1:07 pm | Reply
  3. indie1013

    I think this author has some student loans he wants forgiven!

    December 30, 2011 at 1:08 pm | Reply
  4. RCMartin

    Why must the taxpayers absorb the losses when student loans are forgiven or reduced? These student CHOSE to borrow to go to school. There never was a guarantee of a high paying job waiting for them. They knowingly and willingly borrowed and promised to repay monies so why are they NOW whining about it. I worked two part time jobs and a full time job and repaid my student loans because when you borrow and pledge to repay YOU ACCEPT THAT RESPONSIBILITY , you dont whine about it afterwards and expect someone else to assume your commitment

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

      I did the same thing. worked full time and paid off my student loans. my husband joined the military and that paid for his college education. thank you for being another responsible american. god bless you and god bless our country!

      December 30, 2011 at 1:15 pm | Reply
    • R.B.

      I agree that one should lie in the bed they made, but I'm just saying that if my tax dollars have to pay for something, I would rather it be somebody who, bad decisions aside, is trying as opposed to somebody who is not.

      December 30, 2011 at 1:16 pm | Reply
  5. RaulJones

    How many are still living (rent-free) in Mommy's basement?

    December 30, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Reply
  6. R.B.

    As far as Jon making stupid choices goes....I don't think any 18-19 yr old makes the best choices all of the time. I know I didn't.

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

    If I had my choices to llive in the world . America would not be in my top 3 .
    Now send the christian gestapo after me .

    December 30, 2011 at 1:13 pm | Reply
    • Betrayed by obama

      Traitor- Please leave and bring obama with you .

      December 30, 2011 at 1:35 pm | Reply
  8. MICKY

    2012 ELECTION is going to be historical for America! Either the people vote to let the corporations (Republicans) govern the people, OR the people(Democratic) to govern the corporations! Which is it! You don't want Obama again, then who do you think is any better! None of the clowns currently running for the Republican candidate are any better! In fact, I think they may be a lot worse!

    December 30, 2011 at 1:13 pm | Reply
    • Scott

      Attempt to grow a brain Mickey.....

      December 31, 2011 at 5:26 am | Reply
  9. mizh

    Say what you will, but anyone can make promises when running for office. It's their accomplishments once they are IN office. As long as there are huge corporation $$ and lobbyists in back pockets, NOTHING WILL CHANGE.

    December 30, 2011 at 1:14 pm | Reply
    • Reason and Logic

      Without a doubt. While I am still cynical it is a start when Mitt Romney says it is time to dissolve large PACs.
      Ron Paul would definitely take the money out of the office, but his foreign policy viewpoints are far too radical.

      December 30, 2011 at 1:17 pm | Reply
      • Scott

        How is fighting these foreign wars so the politicians,corporations, and the Crony-capitalists can get rich, while leeching off our government and the average American. These wars are actually a great burden on America. Your logic and reasoning is sounds only to a war-mongering neo-con whose completely blind and thinks were required to help Israel because of some bible myth. You should absolutely adore Obama for expanding our Foreign policy around the globe :).... Very flawed logic and reasoning.

        December 31, 2011 at 5:36 am |
  10. UhOh

    Democrats = Victims
    Anyone else = Victorious
    That goes for the 2012 election as well as the mindset of those who buy into the Democrat propaganda

    December 30, 2011 at 1:17 pm | Reply
  11. Joe

    No, The Problem is all the young people think they can just get free money from OBAMA. And you know what they can. There are people who i know who get more from the government then i make every week, not to mention $8,000 at tax time. That's the problem, we need to stop rewarding stupid behavior and giving money to people who pop out kids like rabbits. But there's no good jobs because all the "baby boomers" aren't retiring because they didn't save enough for their retirement so there's no room for the younger generation to fill in in the corporations. I personally Worked 40 or more hours every week this entire year without one day vacation or sick.

    December 30, 2011 at 1:18 pm | Reply
    • Ray

      Great post.

      December 30, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Reply
  12. B-Man

    I myself will not give up on Obama. Sure there are some issues he was unable to follow through on but that is largely due to bureaucracy. The economy was sinking before he got here but it hit bottom while he was in office and he was unable to stop the inevitable. We continue our debt not because of the President but the belief in ourselves. Sure, we rely heavily on outside influences and the President has to consider that and what happens more often than not are individuals unable to see that. He presides over the United States people. How many states is that? How many people make up each state? What about provinces? All these need to be factored in when your reviewing someone's track record.

    I for one am happy that a sitting President took the reigns on Health Care as i got very tired that every President before him made it their podium but did nothing. President Obama had a great idea however it may not have been received that way. He did a lot more good then people give him credit for...Putting a stop to wasteful spending. Well it seems easy on paper...on the airwaves but think about how you yourself would stop the spending if you knew how many people it would affect? Many things need to be consider and i for one believe that our President continues with our best interests at heart.

    December 30, 2011 at 1:19 pm | Reply
    • ddaamm

      You should give up on obama. He does not have your interests at heart. He's only looking out for himself. Who are you trying to foll by saying that he didn't get things done because of bureaucracy? The dems had control for two years. They passed the (failed) stimulus and waited until the dead of night on 12/21/2010 to force an unwanted health care law. Why isn't the president out there talking about his record of achievements? It's becasue they are unpopular with Americans. So now he has to resort to demonizing his opponents and tell everyone that it could have been worse. It also could have been better. How can you sit there and type that obama should get credit for controlling wastefull spending? Where have you been for the past three years. There's more waste now than ever before. Ever hear about solyndra? How about the fact that obama chief of medicare/medicaid said that 20-30 percent of health care spending is pure waste. Wake up and stop drinking the koolaid

      December 30, 2011 at 1:55 pm | Reply
  13. scott

    obama a liar a loser weak and won becouse people wanted change and they though a black man is change sad part everyone running against him is weaker and a biger loser so no matter what we lose out the people of america are the losers simple as that

    December 30, 2011 at 1:22 pm | Reply
  14. cole

    oblammer is a joke and the libtards need to stop blamming bush. its been three years. he is a has done nothing do nothing carter of a pres. i voted for him and will not make the same mistake.

    December 30, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Reply
  15. BPatMan

    Maybe if we just gave Obama another chance he wouldn't repeat all of the mistakes from his first term and he would lead us into a true utopia where everyone is perpetually happy and everything is perpetually free. Come on, we can do this!

    December 30, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Reply
  16. Mike

    It's obvious that the only effort and energy put fort by this Democratic President is in being reelected. What's more shameful than this is the Democratic Party not having an alternative primary candidate.

    December 30, 2011 at 1:24 pm | Reply
  17. beachguy

    Obama's leadership is a joke as are the "facts" posted here by all these BHO supporters. No one posts any supporting links or info just pure BS. Fact is most of his voters want a friggin CHECK from Uncle Sam. Get off your azz and go to work, stop being a parasite and voting for incompetent idiots like Obama and maybe we can get this country on track.

    December 30, 2011 at 1:26 pm | Reply
  18. north1of7

    we all bought into the 'change" thing. we thought we needed it after 15 years of washington control. but obama was just another political hack that kept up the same policies of washington. his changes resulted in massive deficts, super-enlarging the number of federal workers, massive tax hikes, ....

    his view of change was not what we expected. his failure to make changes for the better never came.

    time for another change

    December 30, 2011 at 1:26 pm | Reply
  19. jsf12

    Zakaria sure stays on message. As it becomes overwhelmingly obvious that Obama is a failure, Zakaria explains it is because Obama isn't far enough to the left.

    December 30, 2011 at 1:27 pm | Reply
  20. Jabba

    The young people thought he was going to actually make a difference, becuase news outlets like CNN built him up so high they all drank the coolaid. Now they realize it was all a farce and presidents don't really accomplish much no matter who is in office. So they won't believe the hype about politician ever again and that is a good thing. Hopefully they will realize they are egotistical power hungry poops.

    December 30, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Reply
  21. Niclas Johansen

    I was duped by the media that supported him so wholeheartedly. Have you noticed how CNN, MSNBC and other leftist outlets begin to publish positive economic news? So predictable. If there was a republican or libertarian president in the WH they'd lament the horrible economic development, unemployment, etc.
    Yes, it was stupid of me to be duped by the likes of Ted Turner's and Jane Fonda's propaganda tool, I was hoping for a new Ronald Reagan (he talked about him at his rallies all the time) yet I got a new Jimmy Carter, another socialist apparatchik president who supports Palestinian terrorists. No, I won't vote for Барак Обама ever again. Nor will I send money to his campaign again. I'm a fiscally conservative libertarian and I'm truly ashamed I voted for that horrible loser over a person who sat in Vietnamese prison as a POW. Thought McCain was too old so I voted for someone who was too stupid instead. Shame in me.

    December 30, 2011 at 1:33 pm | Reply
  22. Butters

    500 yrs from now any civilization that exists will look back on this time and era and see Americans as a totally brainwashed society through government and media . They will see this time as a turning point also , that is still in the works of playing out .

    December 30, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Reply
  23. tj

    I've seen change!! for the worse!!!

    December 30, 2011 at 1:35 pm | Reply
    • mollyb

      Your problems were not caused by Obama, it is a slow trickle down affect from Bush being president. And America is still suffering from his presidential days. So lay the blame where it belongs. At the Replubicans Door.

      December 30, 2011 at 2:28 pm | Reply
  24. Jimbo

    Anyone who backs any candidate 100% republican or democrat and thinks they can change the world is in a fairy land and a moron. People who are in love with our politicians are delusional and scary.

    December 30, 2011 at 1:35 pm | Reply
  25. Me

    I havent lost hope for President Obama I lost hope for the entire process. This country is not a dictatorship, the President has to work with the other elected officials to get things done. When you have a congress, on both sides, that want to bully, control and win every debate, nothing positive will ever happen. Whether you are a Rep or Dem or what ever if you elected official is going on tv and saying that they will not work with the President then they are not doing part of the job you sent them their to do. President Obama like all elected officials had some good and bad ideas, but his vision was consistant. The middle class is being destroyed and something must be done to help. The alternative should not be exceptable to anyone.

    December 30, 2011 at 1:35 pm | Reply
  26. ddaamm

    I beg to differ. Young adults don't like Obama because of his character. He is a bold face LIAR. He campaigned on hope and change. He told everyone he was different that your typical politician and that there was going to be transparency. Turns out he is worse than the typical politician. He is a piece of trash Chicago politician.

    Young people know when they hear a hypocrite that tells everyone to put partisan politics aside but calls Americans that don't agree with him enemies. Do as I say not what I do. Aside from killing some big terrorist targets he made one misstep after another because he is incompetent.

    I'm also sick and tired about people whining or saying somebody should get a bail out. Yes, the banks got bailed out but they paid back the money. This idiot author wants to forgive most of a student’s debt. Then he suggests that the stimulus should have been given to people so they can go buy things. I understand that the economy needs consumers to buy items but giving people money is a band aid and out a fix. It is also temporary. When the money is gone and the jobs still haven't come back you've accomplished nothing. The government can't create jobs. It needs to provide and environment where businesses want to invest in America instead of shipping jobs overseas. Obama care needs to get repealed. The tax rate/code and regulations need to get overhauled.

    December 30, 2011 at 1:35 pm | Reply
  27. Republican

    I did not vote for Mr. Obama nor will I vote for him this time around. One thing is for sure sans Republican or Democrat (it doesn't matter) we need to start saving this country money. We need to stop sending millions to aid other countries and start assisting our own. Once we have our GDP up, jobs have been created and Social Securtiy and other funds are taken care of then we can talk about helping other countries again. I do not blame Bush or President Obama..let's just make some progress...I have nothing against Republicans or Dems...let's work together like our founding Fathers and work together.

    December 30, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Reply
  28. 4More

    The conservatives complaining about President Obama sound much like the CEO's taking credibly for success but blaming failure always on some other cause. Bush Junior just about destroyed this countries economy, started a war in Iraq based on made up information or can't recall which reason we are using now and started handing out TARP fund. Then the GOP acts surprised that all was not made perfect immediately even though in their new role as the "party of no" they appose all. With the pathetic GOP candidates except for Huntsman I'll vote for Obama again in a second.

    December 30, 2011 at 1:38 pm | Reply
    • Jimbo

      Well Obama and the media made you believe that he was going to fix everything with a blink of an eye and the young people drank the koolaid, that is the problem here. Anyone with half a brain new he wasn't go to fix anything, so why did he say he was?

      December 30, 2011 at 1:40 pm | Reply
    • ddaamm

      it's obvious you don't know what you are talking about

      December 30, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Reply
  29. Ryan

    Yes, we've learned a little bit and will be supporting Ron Paul this time if we didn't already in 2008.

    December 30, 2011 at 1:38 pm | Reply
  30. zack

    The reason student loan debt is so high is because higher education is so expensive. Rather than forgiving debt which is a one time band aid that does nothing to help future generations of Americans who will attend college – why not tackle the real problem... out of control tuition costs.
    Why are tuition costs so out of control – well there are lots of reasons – most tracing back to some form of government influence. Like the federal government guaranteeing student loans... That allows banks to loan out as much as they want with little or no fear. The colleges know this – and want that money. So this allows upward pressure to exist on tuition prices. If students couldn't borrow unlimited funds that would put downward pressure on tuition costs as schools would have to compete and actually offer value for the tuition dollar.

    December 30, 2011 at 1:39 pm | Reply
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