An estimated 46 million eligible voters in this year’s election are between 18 and 29 years old – part of the Millennial generation. Will those young voters sway the election? What issues do young people feel are important? What role do they think government should play in their lives? KQED and three other public media organizations on the West Coast are exploring those questions in a series called “Voices of Young Voters.” We fanned out to college campuses around the Bay Area to hear from those who are just coming of age politically.
Young voters should have the numbers to sway the election in November. In 2008, almost one out of every five voters were younger than 30, according to CNN exit polling; they supported then-Senator Barack Obama over Senator John McCain by a 2-to-1 margin.
But will millennials head to the polls in 2012? Will they have an impact on the election?
We put that question to college students around the Bay Area and received three answers: yes, no and maybe.
“A lot of kids are actually becoming more interested in politics and voting. A lot of people in my generation are starting to have a lot of issues with what’s going on right now, so I feel like they would want to make a change so their generation can affect what happens to future generations” – Paul Ochoa, 19, a Sonoma State University Student from Los Angeles.
“Especially within the last eight years or so, I feel like young people have definitely become more interested in politics, registering to vote. We’ve had several events on campus regarding voting. I work at the library. We hand out voter registration forms and stuff like that and there’s been a lot of people coming in who want to get involved and participate” – Georgina Coffey, 23, a Sonoma State University student from Benicia.
“I think if everybody bands together, we’re absolutely a big force to reckon with. I think the only way we wouldn’t be is if we just sat back and kind of let other people take control of our futures. And I think this is a really rambunctious generation and we’re definitely loud and definitely have an opinion, so I think that people are very aware of what’s going on. And people are very scared as well, so I definitely think that the voting for this generation will be very, very influential” Dalila Adofo, 19, a San Francisco State University student from East Palo Alto.
“A lot of people just shrug and turn away from politics and get involved later in their life which, I think they should get involved earlier. There’s too many things going on in their lives. They have all these distractions, and honestly it’s not that important. I mean I know a lot of people that just choose watching sports instead of getting active in their govenment and community” – Adrian Gould, 18, a Sonoma State University student from Thousand Oaks.
“Not really, because our generation doesn’t really care. It’s more about the past generations that actually do care, because the majority of them came here or have the idea like they want a better future. But this generation’s more laid back. We don’t really want to do anything. We want other people to deal with our problems” – Abraham Rosas, 19, a San Francisco State University student from Los Angeles.
“A lot of people of my age are not informed so they might not play as important a role as they should… because it will affect them and not the older generation. So they should play a more important role in this election” – Navia Mathew, 18, an Ohlone College student from Fremont.
“I think the ones that are politically active or have been looking through the issues will play a big role, but I know there’s a lot that are really ignorant and they’re not really looking into what’s going on with government” – Timothy Magallanes, 21, a San Jose State University student from El Centro.
“It’s not that we’re lazy, it’s that we’re apathetic. I mean apathetic is different than not caring. It’s just we feel like there’s not a lot we can do. None of us really realize how much influence we can have over an election if we all turn out and vote” – Serena Organ, 18, a San Jose State University student from San Rafael.