Studies show support for Obama waning among college-age voters

In 2008, Barack Obama relied on college-aged voters to secure the presidency, and he hopes to maintain this support base for the next election.

But recent studies are showing that this support might not be guaranteed.

Tufts University’s Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement conducted a study showing that the state’s Democratic Party has lost more than 39,000 — or about 80 percent — of registered voters between the ages of 18 and 25.

The low Democrat voter registration might pose a problem for the Democratic Party as it struggles to reclaim seats it lost in 2010.

Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg, the lead researcher for the study, said since the age group is mobile, the voters might have moved from their precinct or state where they were registered.

She said it might be difficult to mobilize this age group again, especially considering the high level of support Obama received in 2008.

“That level of excitement and enthusiasm just isn’t there.”

And this election, Republicans are relying on the primaries as a major way to motivate excitement and appeal for young voters, she said.

Another study, conducted by Raleigh-based Public Policy Polling, suggests that young voters will turn out in November, said Tom Jensen, director for the left-leaning research center.

The study puts 55 percent of voters aged 18 to 29 as “very excited” to vote.

Jensen said he expects those types of numbers will show up to register.

“Obama’s support is very much polarized along age lines,” he said. “Young voters are his strongest, older are his weakest.”

Jensen said Obama’s campaign will be able to convince more young voters to register before the election.

And the Defense of Marriage amendment that would ban same-sex marriage in the state, which will be on the May ballot, will drive young voters to the polls, Jensen said.

But Republicans at UNC are committed to fighting for voter support.

Greg Steele, chairman of UNC College Republicans, said that the club’s membership has tripled among dues-paying members since last year, and the group is planning to bring in well-known speakers throughout the semester.

Steele said he doesn’t expect Obama to be re-elected, and although the president still has a large voter base, Independents and students are not going to come to the polls in as large numbers as last election.

“When we look at North Carolina, it was wild that it went Democratic — only by 14,000,” Steele said.

“I just think that the wide-spread support for Obama isn’t there.”

Contact the State & National Editor at state@dailytarheel.com.

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