Young voters hold election power

By Haley M. Walker |

In the poll of Flagler students, the war, the economy, and health care were the top three subjects of concern. Thirty-nine students of the 100 polled said the war was important to them, and 30 students said the economy is a point of interest as well.

Also, several students cited health care as being important. In addition to these three major topics, other issues brought up by students in the survey included gun control, the environment, same-sex marriage, foreign policy and immigration.

Realizing the power and concerns of the youth vote, several candidates in the current election have begun to steer their campaigns toward this demographic.

For instance, an event titled “Closing Arguments: A Presidential Super Dialogue,” was created and geared directly — and only — toward youth for this election.

The event, hosted by The Associated Press, MTV and MySpace, introduced the forum in order to reach more young people.

Four candidates — Clinton, Obama, Huckabee and Paul — were asked questions through a satellite question-and-answer session. Candidates Romney and McCain did not participate.

The event used youth’s most important medium: the Internet, and allowed people from all over the globe to ask the candidates questions. The event was broadcast live by MTV.

It is clear with events like this occurring, that more politicians are realizing the power behind the population of young voters. Campaigns are beginning to target young adults on their levels, especially through media such as the Internet.

According to a 2004 study by The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, one in five young people use the Internet to get their news.

Apart from the Internet, this election has brought another popular medium of communication used by youth. Facebook has officially entered the campaign trail.

According to a Washington Post article, many young people have been creating political groups on the networking site in order to show support for their favorite candidates.
Community sites such as Facebook With this upcoming election, many students have begun to create their own reservations, praise and interest in the current presidential candidates. Many are asking, who has the potential to lead our country down the right road again?

As students learn more about these people, they have begun to form their own opinions on who should earn the title of commander in chief, and why voting truly is important.

According to an unofficial poll of 100 Flagler College students, there was a clear candidate that the young adults say they trust with the state of the country.

Forty-six percent of those surveyed say that they will vote for Barack Obama. Ron Paul received 13 percent of the vote, Hillary Clinton 10 percent, John McCain 9 percent, Mike Huckabee had 6 percent, and Mitt Romney received 3 percent.

Thirteen students said that they were undecided.

Throughout history, the vote of individuals between the ages of 18 and 24 has always been a powerful one. However, they have sometimes been too quiet to make a difference.

According to Circle — The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement — only 47 percent of youth citizens voted in the 2004 presidential election. This statistic was compared to 66 percent of citizens 25 years and older who did vote.

Demographics such as gender and race also play a significant part in the turn out of youth elections.
For instance, according to the group’s research, 50 percent of young women ages 18 to 24 voted in the last presidential election.
This is compared to 44 percent of men in the same age group in the same election.
Additionally, research shows that in this group the African American and Caucasian turn out in the 2004 elections was significant, while Asian and Latino races were lower.
Education also plays a large role in those registered to vote and who participate in the voting process.
According to Circle, young people not in college have a significantly lower voter turnout than those in college.

During these “trying times” of our country, the candidates of this current election have been offering their insight into how they will help fix and bring more benefits to the citizens of this country.

There are many pressing issues of this election that stand out and apply heartily to this generation. Controversies such as the state of the economy, the war in Iraq, health care, and social security are all things to be faced. Students have expressed how these issues will affect them, and why the choice of president could have a heavy effect on them.and MySpace are believed to bring in an entire new group of supporters for this election.

Throughout the election, two candidates in particular — Obama and Paul — have seemed to show significant interest in this generation and currently seem to be the most popular with young adults.

Flagler College senior Julie Harvey says that she feels like Obama is the best candidate to help change the country.

“I agree with Obama because he has given me stable examples of how he will motivate a much-needed change for our nation,” Harvey said. “I strongly feel our nation will be willing to follow him into a new era. Anyone could point out potential downfalls in Obama’s leadership, but his vision gives me much hope.”
Obama received the highest percentage of votes from the Flagler poll.

Furthermore, Paul has been an extremely popular candidate with the youth. According to a recent article posted on, Paul stated that he offers young people a very important thing.

“Guess what I offer them?” said Paul at the presidential debate aired on MTV. “Freedom to live their lives as they choose, freedom to spend their money as they choose and freedom to get out from under the heavy hand of government.”

This kind of attitude that Paul presents definitely raises the energy of young people. Paul received the second highest vote in the Flagler poll.

Campaigning in 2008 will continue, and then the next president will take the stage. As all the country waits for that last ballot to be cast, many will also wait to see if the youth vote is heard this year.

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