IA Youth Wrap-up and Hillary's Youth Troubles

10 years ago

Kristina reported right after the caucus, greeting us with the most exciting numbers - over 65,000 people under 30 caucused.

It was with a tearful eye that I have read, in vindication, the hourly google news alerts that include the words "young voters" that are brought to my inbox.

Sunday's San Francisco Chronical chimed in with enthusiasm

"But what's driving the overall youth vote is that young people now have social networking tools - like Facebook and MySpace - that make it easy for them to get involved and connect creatively with others about political issues. And it is easy for the campaigns to contact them.

They continue

Obama's campaign had three times the number of Facebook supporters (more than 182,000) as his nearest Democratic rival, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, and also dominated his competitors in terms of friends on MySpace. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, has the most online support among GOP candidates, and attracted 21 percent of the under-30 vote in Iowa; however, he garnered single-digit support among those over 30.

The most successful campaigns understand that it's not enough for their candidate to have a lot of Facebook groups linked to their name; the campaign has to connect with those supporters online and get them to do real-world work."

The real winners in Iowa on Thursday were young voters and new media. Plain and simple.

One thing is certain, the struggles youth voter activist groups have fought were finally acknowledged. And I predict politicians and parties will finally begin efforts to connect more with young voters.

David Yepsen the nemesis of young voters gave props Thursday morning to all of those staffers who stepped up to lead.

"But they do it because they care deeply about their country and passionately about someone who wants to lead it. At a time when this nation faces so much bad news, it's reassuring to find people who aren't cynical about the future and are dedicating a portion of their early adult lives to doing something about it."

This piece by Yepsen meant a lot to me after we've pushed back so many times attempting to clarify data on young voters. Fighting to stop suppression tactics and backhanded comments about the validity of our votes. We stayed with a wonderful couple who were up in arms about the young voters who were coming back to caucus. If these are out of state people then they don't have as much a stake in their party, they felt.

They liked us. We are Midwestern and friendly. But we weren't voting. It reflected in many ways a throw back to an establishment that is clearly faltering. Is the flack of the Washington DC establishment crossing over to party lines?

Clinton's Youth Troubles

After witnessing the different crowds at each event and the personal speaking style of both Clinton and Obama I have to think it isn't an accident or just a mistake in organization (though I think that's part of Clinton's fall).

Clinton has been part of Washington for nearly 15 years now. While that helps with her message of experience, additionally it projects an image of someone who might be beholden to certain factions of that insiders group. It also creates a different kind of attitude that I think you see when you watch her speak in the field. She has a very polished, politician, attitude.

We saw a huge change in 2000 with an electorate that wanted a candidate that was not the most presidential (Gore) but one that was their buddy (Bush). And I think many of the under 50 voters were leading that charge. This was something Clinton addressed in Saturday's debate when she attacked Obama for being all beautiful words and no policy.

But Obama embodies those same personality traits that Bush did on the R side. Personable, friendly, relaxed, normal. A direct contrast to HRC who embodies all of the traits that come with typical politicians. Most older people connect well with this because they see it as a sign of professionalism. Young people see it as something to rebel against.

Carl Bernstein is talking on CNN as I'm typing this, about the people that were behind Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Behind Hillary Clinton were traditional older voters many of which are a throwback to an old bygone era of democratic politics - where behind Obama was a sea of young people, new leaders, and the future majority.

This difference in message and attitude between the top 3 (Obama, Edwards, and Clinton) was never more different than last night at the New Hampshire Debate where we saw the three battle it out about the "change" argument. John Edwards began here by reminding Sen. Clinton that change won at the Iowa Caucus, it appeared to hit a nerve.

And Obama responded here.

These arguments are all valid ones. But for an American electorate that is hell bent on change I've already created change is not something that seems to connect well with them because these are not changes that monumental enough or reflect the desires of the electorate. I have already created change both as a First Lady and again as a US Senator. But we need more of it, and that starts day one when I'm elected.

If HRC instead changed a few things about the way she speaks, what she wears when speaking to young people, her attitude, and the way in which she frames her issues then I think she'd have more of a chance with the younger electorate. But, Hilblazers was too little too late and her youth outreach folks are too few within her campaign infrastructure.

Rorey Steele, the former Executive Director for the Washington Bus, a state based youth organization, was actively recruited to be a regional director for Obama early in 2007. While Obama had specific youth organizers his regular regional staff also seems to be well schooled in reaching out to young people.

Jason Croucher, a 24 year old City Council-member from Kansas and fellow travel companion came to Iowa to work for John Edwards. "I think he is the best democratic candidate to appeal to folks in states like Kansas," Jason begins. "His message resonates with everyone and its reflective of our values as a party and I think as a nation. Personally, I love his emphasis on helping people in need. That is a core democratic principal that I think we need to get back to."

Sen. Clinton goes about things differently.

Outside all of the meetings we attended for Clinton and Obama we saw a picket-line of young Ron Paul supporters passing out pamphlets "Democrats for Ron Paul" and specifically shouting about Clinton being the "establishment" candidate. Many in the Republican party saw the youth vote fractured between Ron Paul (21%) and Romney (22%) and Huckabee/Chuck Norris nearly double at 40%. (see: cnn)

Saturday night's Facebook/ABC debate double header polled facebook viewers in real time during both the republican and democratic debates. Facebook users saw Ron Paul the most presidential by 41% and Huckabee far behind with a mere 24%.

One thing is for certain, now is the time for political leaders to embrace new young voters. And now is our chance to lead others to our world of hope and change.

It cannot be done through pandering or 20 minutes late to the campfire chats but with passionate rhetoric backed up by solid policy initiatives that deal with issues that effect all of us. Step 1. Be a person, not a politician.

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