Excerpts from The Boston Globe: “President Obama, who hitched his ride to the White House three years ago largely on the infectious energy and organizing efforts of young Americans, faces challenges as he attempts to court their support in his reelection bid...
“Voters under 30 have, as a group, become increasingly disillusioned dealing with the demoralizing economy. Their 13 percent unemployment rate is significantly higher than the national average, as many students graduate into a world of massive college loan debts and barren job markets.
“‘There’s a deep-seated feeling of malaise out there,’ said Thomas Patterson, a professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government who focuses on electoral participation. ‘The president is going to have to get really lucky to recapture the same kind of on-the-ground energy among young people that catapulted him to a win last time.’
“A survey released this month by the Pew Research Center found that just 48 percent of young voters — those 18 to 29 years old — say Obama makes them feel hopeful, compared with 81 percent in November 2008.
“While 73 percent said that voting gave them a say in government shortly after Obama took office, only 63 percent now agree with that. Such a figure could be a harbinger of lagging turnout, always a question with this age group.
“At least 95 percent of the campaign’s employees were under 30...and students made up a significant portion of the donor pool. Above all else, they provided the pulse of the Obama phenomenon, making phone calls, knocking on doors, registering new voters.
“‘Right now, it’s hard to see where that magic is going to come from…
“There’s a lot of disenchantment there’…‘Obama will not be able to hang on to that enthusiasm of the young people because what’s been happening in the last couple years.’
“This is true for Aaron Ratoff, a 21-year-old senior at Tufts University. Ratoff recalls being a strong backer of Obama on campus during his freshman year in 2008. Today, his fervent admiration has developed into ‘measured disappointment.’
“‘Obama had the right idea on a lot of things, but he hasn’t followed through on the execution and it’s been really discouraging’…"
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Excerpts from The New York Times: “For much of the presidential election of 2008, Barack Obama's campaign was Emma Guerrero’s life. She was one of a dozen volunteers who showed up at an Obama campaign office every night, taking time from her studies at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, to be part of what she still remembers as the most exciting period of her life.
“It was largely because of Ms. Guerrero — and hundreds of other college students like her across the country — that Mr. Obama assembled a formidable machine that helped him roll to victory in 2008, a triumph that included putting Nevada into the Democratic column for the first time in 12 years.
“‘I don’t think I could do it anymore…That campaign was an amazing experience. But I don’t think I’m in the same mind-set anymore. He hasn’t really addressed the young people, and we helped him to get elected.’
“Across this state — and in others where young voters were the fuel of the Obama organization, voting for him two to one over John McCain — the enthusiastic engine of the 2008 campaign has run up against the reality of a deadened job market for college students.
“Interviews here and across the country suggest that most of his college supporters of 2008 are still inclined to vote for him. But the Obama ground army of 2008 is hardly ready to jump back into the trenches, potentially depriving Mr. Obama of what had been an important force in his victory.
“Yet even Mr. Obama’s supporters say it seems unlikely that the president — given the difficulties of these past three years and the mood of the electorate of all ages — will ever be able to replicate the youthful energy that became such a defining hallmark of his campaign.
“Jason Tieg, 22…voted for Mr. Obama with great enthusiasm in 2008. But now, struggling to find a part-time job to help him through school, he is not even sure he would do that again. ‘I got a job in July as a custodian on campus, but I lost it again when they needed to cut down.
“‘I don’t know if I’ll support him next year’…
“It is hard to find a state that more vividly illustrates the danger to Obama from declining enthusiasm among young voters than Nevada. Few parts of the country have been harder hit by this recession, with stubborn double-digit unemployment, an unending wave of mortgage foreclosures and huge numbers of homeless. And there are few states where young voters were so crucial to Mr. Obama’s victory.
“Even those who remain strongly supportive of Mr. Obama here say they see little chance of his winning this state.
“‘People in Nevada are really angry. I think Nevada is going to be red again in 2012, definitely.’ ‘I didn’t think it was going to be so bad...I was definitely hoping Obama could do more.’”
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