It’s no secret that the young voter population is paying attention to this presidential election in record numbers, and being more involved than they ever have before. The 18- to 29-year-old vote is one that’s been highly sought for years by candidates, but because of a vicious cycle where candidates don’t listen to the college voter because they don’t vote and they don’t vote because the candidates don’t listen – they both end up losing one another’s attention.
A fire has been lit, and people from both political parties are certain that the college-aged, 20-something voters will turn out in record numbers, likely to be higher than any other election in history.
How important are these votes? They’ll be quite influential, considering the 44 million eligible voters who fall in this age group make up one-quarter of the total electorate. They’re impact on this election could be quite decisive.
And at this time, Barack Obama owns that vote. Polls in September from both the USA Today/Gallup/MTV group and Rock The Vote found that these Generation X and Generation Y voters are likely to punch the ballot for Obama by a 2-to-1 margin. Democratic pollster Celinda Lake suggested that if these young voters show up to vote in numbers reflective of their current engagement levels “the youth wave for Obama would be the biggest partisan generational gap ever recorded.”
For all their record participation in the primaries and campaigning for both candidates, they’ll actually have to show up. In the 2004 election, that meant 45 percent of this under-30 population, accounting for 16 percent of the vote. Current data suggests that voter turn out for this group will be about 86 percent.
Many states’ last date for voter registration is 15 days prior to election day; October 20 would be the cut-off for the Nov. 4 presidential election. Your vote has always counted – this year, make a point of proving the doubters wrong, make your interest count for something, and let your voice be heard.
Check out the student voting guide at Rock the Vote– you’ll find valuable information about voting on campus, registration cut-off dates, and even find out if your state is one of the 30 that allows early voting (so you don’t have to bother with absentee ballots, or miss voting altogether if you’re traveling).