I've been saying this for a while, if the younger voter actually votes, Obama will win this election handily. The questions is: Will they vote? I've run into Obama posers -- They're all cool with the Obama shirts, stickers and whatever. To them, Obama is a fashion statement. They're not likely to vote. But there is a movement, a real one, of younger voters, who have the t-shirts, stickers and whatever but also know the issues and know what Obama stands for. They have been organizing for him -- that's right community organizing. They are the core of Obama's campaign. What's not certain is their numbers.
The Nation: With 44 million eligible voters, the Millennials comprise almost one-quarter of the potential electorate; by 2015, they will make up one-third of potential voters. But will they vote? The uptick in Millennial political participation has been going on for four years. The 2004 election marked the largest increase in 18-to-29-year-old turnout since 1972. Forty-nine percent of eligible Millennial voters went to the polls, a 9 point increase over 2000, although still far below the turnout rate of voters over 30. In the ten most competitive battleground states in 2004, however, where campaigns targeted young voters, Millennial turnout was even higher--64 percent.
Studies confirm that direct contact by peers increases the likelihood that young people will vote. Yale political scientists Don Green and Alan Gerber found that peer-to-peer contact raised youth turnout by eight to twelve points among registered voters. The spike in youth turnout in 2004 and 2006 was no fluke. It was the result of a significant increase in voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives by political campaigns, party groups and nonpartisan organizations.
These outreach efforts are utilizing YouTube, Facebook, MySpace, text messaging and cell phones to reach young voters. That's because 89 percent of 18-to-24-year-olds own a cell phone, and 86 percent of college students and 57 percent of non-college youth have access to FaceBook, which organizers use to raise awareness and expand social networks on the Internet and then bring young people together in person. WireTap is an online magazine for youth activists. (Because so many young people rely on cell phones, they are undercounted in public opinion polls, which mainly survey people using home phone numbers. As a result, polls may be under-estimating overall support for Obama).