President Obama coasted into the White House thanks in part to the youth vote, individuals aged 18-29 who bought into his vague promise to bring change. During Mr. Obama's term in office, however, many of this group - known as Millennials - have been forced to learn how to subsist on pocket change. This isn't quite what they were expecting when they turned out in historic droves in 2008.
According to a recent poll commissioned by Generation Opportunity, 57 percent of Millennials participating said they will learn more about the policy positions of presidential candidates in the 2012 election than they did in 2008. This is bad news for Mr. Obama, who is encumbered with a record that hurts young adults. His $825 billion so-called stimulus robbed the private sector of cash needed for job growth, while Obamacare will squeeze money from these healthiest of Americans through fines and forced participation to subsidize treatment for old sick people.
"Young people are disillusioned after 2008, when the message was change," points out Surbhi Godsay of the youth-research organization CIRCLE. Now, she says, they're "concerned about employment." And for good reason. Statistics show that Millennials have been hit hard by the high jobless rates around the country. The unemployment rate for 16-24 year-olds is a staggering 18.1 percent, down from the record-breaking high of 19.1 percent a year ago, while 25-34 year-olds face a rate of 9.7 percent, higher than the national average. Among Millennials, "Everybody knows somebody who's really been struggling to find a job," explains Paul Conway, president of Generation Opportunity.
Not helping Mr. Obama's re-election chances is a report that this group retains no particular political loyalty, according to Mr. Conway. "Millennials are solutions-oriented," he told Anneke E. Green of The Washington Times. "They have their own recommendations, they want to be heard, and they want results." The problem is things just keep getting worse. According to a 2010 poll commissioned by Rock the Vote, 59 percent of this demographic says they feel more cynical about the political process than they did in 2008. This cynicism could be a sign of progress. Perhaps next year, young voters won't be so easily duped by empty slogans.
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