“Youthquake”

By Beacon Staff

Barrack Obama got there first. Now, others are jumping on board.

After Obama won the Iowa caucus, in part because of his surprising ability to activate younger Americans, other candidates have made obvious efforts to make their campaign hipper and younger. Though some may be more successful than others.

A video from the Clinton camp aimed at young voters was described by the Economist as “a medium-budget teen public service announcement desperately—and transparently—attempting to make something very uncool, like obeying the speed limit, seem just the opposite.” And, Clinton’s voice, they wrote, sounded, “like your mother encouraging you to spend less time drinking at university.”

So, why the fuss over a voter group that has shown little motivation on moving from their couch come Election Day?

A story in BusinessWeek by Michelle Conline does a good job of outlining why now, if ever there was a time and an election, young voters may make a difference this year. Gen Y’ers, or Millenialls, aged 18 to 29, account for nearly 43 million people, or 20 percent of registered voters, according to census counts.

And, as Conline lines out, they feel as though they have a lot to lose – or gain – with this election: “They’re inheriting an economy in which many of the things their parents took for granted are evaporating: company-provided health insurance, attainable housing, Social Security, affordable education, well-paying jobs.”

If I’m any indication of my generation, then candidates, pundits and economist are on to something when they say a “Youthquake” may affect the election. I’ve never followed an election, local or national, with such interest – though admittedly there’s been few since I’ve been old enough to vote. I even found myself attending my boss’s “caucus party,” an event my teenage self would’ve made fun of.

Ultimately only the election will prove if candidates were wise to put energy – financial and physical – toward garnering my generation’s vote. I, for one, hope the twentysomethings will make candidates seem smart. At least in this one regard.

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