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September 27, 2012 10:00 AM College Students Indifferent to Election

By Daniel Luzer

College students don’t much care about this year’s presidential election. According to a piece by Martha Irvine in the Huffington Post:

This year, it’s difficult to find a college student who’s truly excited about the presidential race. A Gallup poll taken Aug. 27-Sept. 16 found that 63 percent of registered voters, ages 18 to 29, said they “definitely” plan to vote. That compares with at least 80 percent of registered voters in older age brackets who said the same.
By comparison, before the election in 2008, 79 percent of young registered voters said they definitely planned to cast a ballot, according to a Time/Abt SRBI poll, taken in later September of that year. Older voters were about as committed to vote then as they are this time.

Obamamania, the strange, frenzied excitement many young people displayed for the president during his last campaign, is over. College students are still more likely to support President Barack Obama than Governor Mitt Romney (61 percent of voters under 29 support the president; only 30 percent support the former Massachusetts governor) but they’re just not that excited about him anymore. And they’re less likely to vote.

This makes some people very sad, or something. According to the article,

“It kind of breaks my heart,” says [25-year-old Allison] Byers, who works in communications at an arts college and was an active organizer for the Obama campaign in 2008, when she was a junior at Virginia Tech.

She “finds young Americans’ waning commitment to vote in this election frustrating.”

Then again, it’d be kind of weird if young Americans were still as excited about Obama as they were in 2008. He’s been president of the United States for four years now; he’s not a fresh-faced and idealistic young man from Chicago anymore. That’s just what happens when you become president.

It’s also probably worth pointing out that a fairly good way to reduce young people’s commitment to voting might be to pass a whole series of state laws designed to make it harder for students, the impoverished, and ethnic minorities to vote.

And that’s really the heartbreaking thing, isn’t it?

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer