The youth did it.
The sour economy coupled with the fact that this was the first presidential race with a black nominee leading a major-party ticket make it appropriate that this historic race produced seismic increases in the young voter registration and turnout in America.
“Time” magazine predicted before the primaries this year that this election would be “the Year of the Youth Vote.” As the scuffle for the presidential seat heated up, so did the importance of the votes from youth ages 18-25, which makes up 21 percent of all voters. This was proven by record spending from both parties but particularly from President elect Barack Hussein Obama, 47, the first-term senator from Illinois.
More than ever before, young Americans seemed to care about the outcome of the election and became actively engaged in following both campaigns. Although both candidates’ parties spent record amounts in advertising this election, Obama really targeted and rallied the black and the youth vote. “Regardless of who we voted for, I think it’s really important that me and my friends were able to witness and participate in this groundbreaking election. I also think it’s nothing short of a miracle and a huge blessing, whether you are black or white, to have witnessed an African-American address our nation not as a civil-rights leader but as the new president of our country,” said Benita Bates, 22, a political science major.
Although the numbers have yet to be counted, this presidential election, more than ever, made your youth vote count. According to Rock the Vote, a non-partisan political advocacy group that targets young voters, early reports have shown that the youth vote proved to be critical, particularly in swing states such as Pennsylvania and Virginia. Early reports from Election Day indicated that there were record turnouts. In Virginia, 21 percent of all voters for the state were youth voters, or 1 out of every 5 voters; that number was up 17 percent from 2004. For Pennsylvania, the youth voters made up 18 percent. Ohio also showed significant increases. Here in Utah County, UVU was in the top ten universities nationally with registered voters.
The national exit poll reported Obama won 66 percent of voters under 30, an even higher number than Ronald Reagan’s 59 percent in the 1984 election.
The youth have made history.