Do Students Feel the Same Election Excitement as 2008?
Four years ago, Barack Obama was the unquestioned top pick for college students.
The 2008 presidential election brought out the second-largest youth voter turnout in history, with nearly 66% voting for the Obama, according to a Tufts University poll.
Now, with the 2012 election less than two weeks away, the big question is whether that romance holds true this time around. FNCU turned to some students from colleges across the nation to hear what they have to say about election buzz on campus.
While most current college students probably weren’t enrolled during the 2008 election season, many easily recall the excitement surrounding the presidential campaign.
“When I was in high school in 2008, it was different because of how popular the election was,” said Damian Mencini, of Boston College. “It was almost sort of like a movie was coming out and it was considered cool to wear t-shirts and buttons of who you were going to vote for.”
Mencini attributes this feeling to how effectively Obama ran his campaign for the youth vote. He says the distinction between then and now is that most students are not necessarily as committed to one candidate.
“People are very intrigued, and although it has the same level of attention as 2008, it’s more discussion-based instead of ‘who-are-you-voting-for’ based. My friends and classmates who aren’t necessarily political people are watching the debates, and a lot of them are undecided.”
Nashoba Santhanam, of Columbia University in New York City, agrees. “As opposed to 2008, which was very Obama-centric … this year I don’t think his personal characteristics are pushing him as far as they did in 08. I think that’s reflected in students placing more emphasis on the issues, as opposed to those personal characteristics.”
Santhanam, president of the Columbia University Republicans, noted a doubling of his group’s membership since last year. He says there’s been a big uptake in activities, politically related events and debates that illustrate clear interest in the race this year.
It may come as no surprise that a university located in a swing state would have more campaign presence than most –and Iowa State University is the prime example.
Abhishek Vemuri, president of the Iowa State University College Democrats, describes a lively atmosphere on campus where students are excited, interested and motivated. He says there is definitely a more Obama-related presence on campus. And celebrities like Adam Scott and Rashida Jones have even visited, to campaign for the president’s reelection.
Vemuri predicts Obama will again carry the youth vote.