05.31.2011 1

Has Obama Lost the College Crowd?

Students for ObamaBy Rebecca DiFede – When Barack Obama first hit the political scene for his Presidential campaign in 2008, he received an outpouring of support from college students. Campus communities began to overflow with banners, flyers, t-shirts — all advertising the Obama/Biden platform. These eager, fledgling voters came out in flocks, rallying support for the young, hip Senator.

Obama’s emergence as a technological candidate also helped to give him an edge with the college crowd — having posed for several photos while checking his Smartphone, as well as his incessant presence on his Twitter account — as this generation is irrevocably intertwined with all forms of social media and the gadgets that go with them.

As fervor for the Obama campaign continued to grow on campuses across the nation, it became apparent that he was more than just a candidate to this new political population, he was a god. His speeches began to be quoted in Facebook statuses, whole clubs began to emerge just for the purpose of loving and supporting Obama, while his likeness was more commonly seen than the Nike ® symbol.

It was more than posters and screen-print t-shirts, Obama’s face was on Iphone covers, computer cases, shot glasses, gloves; his face was even emblazoned in rhinestones on sweatshirts and sweatpants. The man had ceased to be solely a participant in the political arena and became a celebrity, managing to steal the spotlight from such 2008 media magnets as The Dark Knight and the Twilight series.

Obama’s promise of hope and change encouraged over 15 million new voters (and 8,206,912 Twitter followers), 55 percent of which were aged 18-24. In fact his campaign was almost entirely driven by that demographic, 60 percent of whom were still supportive of him according to a poll taken in May 2009.

However, a lot can change in a year. Obama made some pretty hefty promises to his throngs of young voters, such as a pending shut-down of Guantanamo Bay, the slow-but-steady removal of troops from overseas, and the emergence of alternative sources of clean energy, and a year later all three remain unfulfilled. In fact, in the aftermath of the assassination of Osama Bin Laden, we are involved more than ever in the war on terror. Guantanamo Bay has shown no intention of closing its doors, our national debt has swollen to the ceiling, and the economy is creeping backward towards recession.

More importantly, college graduates are struggling to find jobs, rendering them unable to pay back their substantial college loans. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in April 17.2 percent of people under 25 were unemployed, rising from 13.2 percent in 2008. A poll done by Associated Press in conjunction with mtvU in September of 2010 showed that now only 44% of that demographic is supportive of Obama’s presidency, a significant drop from previous years, and somewhat surprising considering the immense popularity he once held.

“The months leading up to the 2008 elections were a crazy time on campus. Every class, from politics to math, somehow ended up talking about Obama,” Rachel, a recent graduate from American University commented. “As a communications major, not one class went by without mentioning Obama’s speeches and charisma. He was going to change things. He was the hope of our nation. But by 2010, Obama had all but vanished from class conversation, other than the rare conservative professor who dared to question the wisdom of the health care bill.” It seemed the only visible change was the virtual removal of Obama’s once ubiquitous presence from campus.

It would appear that the pattern of broken promises, missed dates, and unfulfilled duties has left the campus populations disillusioned. Obama came into the limelight with words of hope and inspiration, calling for change and making students believe that yes, they could. But where is that change now?

As gas prices soar and the average income falls, how can these young minds not worry about what lies ahead of them after graduation? Where is the hope that Obama had sworn he would deliver to them? Unfortunately for the President, he failed to make good on his promises, and many college students, like spurned lovers are beginning to turn their back on him. With his approval ratings dropping and his popularity hovering at record lows, it seems Obama has lost the enthusiasm of the college crowd, and it is hard to see how he can get it back by 2012.

Rebecca DiFede is a Social Media Assistant with Americans for Limited Government and is a recent graduate of American University in Washington, DC.

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