With the next United States presidential election nearly a year and a half away, hopeful politicians have already begun to set their sights on the White House, announcing their intentions to run for office, rolling out campaign commercials and building their political platforms in a race to secure the election’s most valuable commodity — voters.
In 2012, approximately 48 percent of young people ages 18 to 29 voted in the presidential election, according to a report released by civicyouth.org, a site that compiles and analyzes voting statistics. This number is slightly lower than the 51 percent of young people who voted in the 2008 election.
In 2000, youth participation in the presidential election measured below 40 percent.
Although the spike in young voters during the past two presidential elections is clear, the reason for the approximate 10 percent increase may be linked to a variety of factors, including strong minority candidates.
In 2008, Barack Obama, the first black American president and the Democratic nominee, secured 66 percent of the votes cast by Americans under age 30. In the 2012 election, Obama received 60 percent of the youth vote as the incumbent, in comparison to Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate, who was able to secure only 37 percent, according to National Exit Polls.
Some students believe Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, regarded by many as a strong contender for the presidency in 2016, could be a draw for youth voters, particularly because she is a female candidate.
Although she admits politics don’t have much of an impact on her daily life, Plattsburgh State junior Becca Gardner said she believes if any candidate were to spur interest in college students to vote, it would be Clinton because of her strength as a female contender.
“People want to make a change,” Gardner said. “Feminism is a huge thing right now.”
In a poll taken by the 2014 National Election Pool, youth opinion statistics reminiscent of those drawn by Obama when he was the minority candidate in 2008, show 46 percent of voters between ages 18 and 29 believe Clinton would make a good president in 2016.
Of the other four candidates on poll, including Jeb Bush and Chris Christie, Clinton scored highest on the list of contenders, with Bush and Christie reaching 24 and 29 percent respectively.
Although the way young people stay informed on current events, news and politics have begun to shift away from traditional sources, such as newspapers, and more toward social media and online news outlets, they are still a prominent portion of the youth vote — especially college students.
While young adults between 18 and 29 represent 21 percent of the entire eligible voting population in the United States, in all presidential and midterm election years, young people with college experience were more likely to vote, compared to their counterparts with no college experience, according to civicyouth.org, a website that focuses on getting young people invested in civil participation.
“If students know what they are looking for, they should be involved,” said PSUC freshman expeditionary studies major Justin Chardavoyne, who said he plans to vote in the next presidential election.
Still, other students say they are not as concerned with popular minority candidates, but are more interested in potential nominees who have desirable qualities.
PSUC political science major Brian Houghton said if any candidates were to pique the interest of voters, he believes it would be two politicians, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, neither of whom have officially declared their candidacy.
“They tell the truth,” Houghton said.
Email Thomas Marble at firstname.lastname@example.org