In an effort to rekindle the political excitement of his 2008 campaign, President Barack Obama launched an initiative to involve more young voters in his reelection campaign.
Obama launched the “Greater Together” initiative Monday, which aims to get young people more involved in his reelection campaign. The Obama for America campaign hosted a conference call to announce the launch of the initiative, with representatives from the campaign taking questions from students across the country to address involvement and key political issues.
OFA spokesperson Jim Messina took questions from student reporters ranging from student loan debt to why students should get involved in political campaigns.
Messina cited Obama’s recently proposed student loan reform plan as a reason why students should get involved in the campaign in the midst of tuition increases and a stagnant job market for college graduates.
Messina said to help manage rising college costs, the president announced a plan last week to give graduates an opportunity to consolidate their federal student loans. Anderson said the plan would give nearly six million students with loans the ability to refinance them into one loan with a lower interest rate.
University of Wisconsin political science professor Donald Downs said the launch of the student debt reform plan and Obama’s initiative are strategically related.
Downs said students are an essential part of Obama’s base, and a similar strategy was witnessed in the “fire up the base” initiative from Karl Rove in the 2004 presidential elections with former President George W. Bush.
Students also asked Messina how the president plans to get student votes when many students feel he has broken previous campaign promises.
“I think the president has done more than his campaign promises. He’s proposed a work opportunity tax credit,” Messina said. “We have already passed and signed into law a substantial expansion in Pell Grants. He has proposed more loan repayments for public service, and that’s on top of his student loan reform and the American Jobs Act.”
Downs also addressed students upset with Obama and how the president’s relationship with younger voters has likely changed since the 2008 election.
He cited a number of reasons why Obama may have lost some of the support he had in 2008, including a weak economy and little chance of improvement in the job market by the 2012 elections.
“I think students are much more concerned about the future than they were four years ago,” Downs said. “There has been a lot of talk out there politically. Even the Occupy Wall Street movement has become partly focused on the problem of student debt.”
Downs also said younger voters in elections tend to be less reliable as far as voting figures are concerned as compared to other demographics.
Young voters can be considered an unreliable segment and do not turn out at the polls as consistently as older voters, according to Downs.
“Obama knows he’s in trouble.” Downs said. “[Young voters] tend to be a little more fickle. Research has consistently shown that the older you are, the more reliable you are to vote.”Correction: The original article incorrectly identified the Obama for America spokesperson as Drew Anderson. The representative on the call was Jim Messina. We regret the error.