Young Minority Voters Consider Options Other Than Obama
Democratic registration is down 800,000 while independents are growing in number.
For the last three national elections – 2004, 2006, and 2008 – the Democratic Party has claimed the votes of the majority of young voters.
According to the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, 66% of voters 18-29 years old voted for Barack Obama in 2008. This created the biggest disparity between young voters and other age groups since exit polling began in 1972 — saying a lot about the importance of young people to President Obama’s re-election campaign.
However, new research suggests President Obama may have something to worry about: lack of engagement, decreasing democratic voters, and an increasing independent votership — making many voters up for grabs.
“Millennials continue to support Obama at much higher levels than older generations. But Obama’s job ratings have fallen steeply among this group, as well as among older generations, since early 2009,” the survey research stated. “Perhaps more ominously for Obama, Millennials are much less engaged in politics than they were at this stage in the 2008 campaign.”
Its no surprise that President Obama’s job record is coming into question. Since even before he came into office, the unemployment rate was on the rise — reaching a peak in October of 2010 at 10%. This is one of the main reasons why Andrew Lee, former Vice Chair of membership at the Young Republican National Federation, says he’s opened his options and joined the Republican Party.
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“The major concerns for the Black community are the decline of the black family, quality educational opportunities, and jobs,” Mr. Lee told Loop21. “I’m not denying that the Republican Party needs to do better reaching out to minorities but we need to look at what works. Part of doing that is not giving 99% of your vote to one party. I don’t think that’s served the African American community at all.”
Mr. Lee, who grew up Democratic with his family in Atlanta, Georgia, says he (like many other college students at the time) has “flirted” with the Obama campaign before but after being unsatisfied with his Democratic views and Obama’s presidency, decided to register as a Republican.
He’s not the only one on the move.
According to a USA Today analysis from December of 2011, Democrats declined in 25 of the 28 states that register voters by party while Republicans declined in 21 states. And in the eight swing states — Democrats’ registration is down by 800,000, 450,000 more of a loss than Republican registration. Meanwhile, independents increased in 18 of the 28 states— causing attention to the growing number of undecided voters.
Jackie De La Rosa, a first year law student at Boston College, says she is one of those undecided voters. Although she has registered with the Republican Party in the past, the craziness of the Republican campaign trail has made her more skeptical of politicians and the way they are portrayed in the media.
“You can barely believe anything anymore,” she told Loop21 while taking a break in between classes. “Depending on what channel you watch, they’re going to paint different stories of different people,” she said. Ms. De La Rosa, whose parents are Colombian immigrants, grew up as a Republican because of her parent’s strong views of taxes and limited government.
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“If I made $15 for my work—I bust my butt to make money for school, where’s my money going? My parents didn’t speak English. Yes, we have a duty to society—its just there has to be a balance. We don’t want to feel like we work hard and we’re giving our money away.”
However, she said once she started law school and became more educated on different issues, she was able to explore outside of the Republican party’s views — identifying as a conservative on fiscal issues and as a liberal on social issues. She said, “I believe gay marriage should be legal. I believe abortion should be illegal” and in the same breath that she is still a traditionalist—that just because she may be registered in one party or the other doesn’t mean her views are confined to a box.
“I think most people are just waiting for something to make sense. It just depends on when the wind blows and where it takes you.”