Published: Friday, November 2, 2012
Updated: Monday, April 22, 2013 19:04
Congressman John Carney (D-Del.) said 2008 drew the greatest interest amongst young voters since the time of President John F. Kennedy due to the youthfulness of the candidates. According to data from the Census Bureau, 49 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 24 voted, which was a two percent increase from 2004.
He said President Barack Obama was a charismatic, new candidate on the scene who inspired hope and reminded voters of the American Dream.
Carney said young people have other interests, and Obama was able to focus on issues they were worried about, like the economy.
“They’re not at that point, often, in their lives where what politicians are talking about seems relevant to them,” Carney said.
Political science professor Joseph Pika said the amount of student voters in 2008 was the highest it has been since the 1970s. Still, many people fail to show up to the polls. In the most recent presidential election, 64 percent of those eligible to vote came out, according to the Census Bureau.
Pika said Vietnam mobilized his generation and big events like the Cold War or Watergate spurred activism. He speculated that younger generations may be permanently impacted enough by events like Sept. 11 that they want to vote and participate.
Jason Mycoff, a political science and international relations professor, said the average turnout changes based upon the tone of the election. Presidential races get the most voters followed by the national Congressional, but statewide offices attract less voters. Local races do not get enough media attention or generate as much voter interest, he said.
He said the specific candidates and the context of elections determines the turnout. The amount of voters increased in 2008 partly because of the historic nature of Obama’s campaign and his dynamic messages, he said.