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Guest MINDSETTER™ Alex Morash: The Power of the Youth Vote

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


Generation Y, the largest generation in American history, the echo of the baby boom. We are considered the most highly educated generation yet, highly engaged in community service and politics, and a desire to be successful. All the while also having crushing debt post graduation and terribly high unemployment. Our generation will have one of the most complicated journeys in recent American history.

We also vote. Young voters made up 19% of the electorate and 60% voted for President Obama. In 2008 66% of young voters voted for the President. It is clear that the President won both elections with the help of this generation. But will this generation be a solid Democratic voting block for good? Already the President has lost ground with this generation. Will Democrats be able to keep Generation Y in the long run?

They could be. Young voters care about many issues near and dear to the Democratic Party. They are pro-gay rights, pro-education funding and in favor of stimulus to create growth. However, if the Democratic Party does not take this voting block's needs seriously Democrats will be in danger of losing Generation Y. Make no mistake, Democrats will have an unlikely path to victory if they do not win young voters by a healthy margin.

Not that long ago, that is exactly what happened. Senator John Kerry won the youth vote in 2004 but only by 54%. President Bush in 2000 actually won the youth vote by 1 percentage point. Young people do not always vote Democratic and can not be taken for granted. Young people also have many serious economic problems not seen by other generations since the 1970s.

Young people need help with higher education costs, access to affordable housing and healthcare, and most important of all living wage jobs! The longer young people go without access to jobs, the easier it will be for Republicans to make arguments to sway young voters away from the Democrats. Conservatives on reason.com are already making the argument that Social Security and Medicare should be cut so it will still be around for young people. A direct line to cut young voters away from Democratic causes to help seniors. This could be an appealing argument for many young people, putting young Americans in play next election.

If the Democratic Party tackles these issues and shows that young people will get more than an election year concert, real progress on student loan forgiveness, real job growth and the power to organize to protect our wages. Then perhaps the Democratic Party has a winning strategy to secure Generation Y for a lifetime. If they fail the Republican Party could very well pivot and secure just enough young voters to block Democratic victories for many years. Gutting programs to help older generations in the process.


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