We won’t be fooled again: How Mitt Romney will capture the youth vote

Alyssa Farah Communications Director, Young Americans for Liberty
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Pollster Scott Rasmussen made headlines last week by saying there was “absolutely no chance” Governor Mitt Romney could win a majority of the youth vote in November. He cited a sharp divide between the 40 and older age group, who tend to support Governor Romney, and “millennials,” who largely favored President Obama in 2008 and are expected to do so again in 2012.

Rasmussen’s argument sounds persuasive. Most current polling shows President Obama leading among young voters. And it’s true the Republican Party carries some baggage with younger generations.

But Governor Romney is not far behind President Obama with young voters and, more importantly, he’s closing the gap.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist, or even a venerated pollster, to understand why. A panoramic view of President Obama’s economic failings leave me, and millions of other millennials harmed by his disastrous policies, convinced he will be a one-term president.

Under the Obama administration, the graduating class of 2011 was the most indebted in U.S. history. Average per student debt sits at roughly $22,900. After adjusting for inflation, students today owe about twice as much as student borrowers did a decade ago. Earlier this year, for the first time in history, Americans’ collective student loan debt surpassed $1 trillion.

Consider what out-of-control student loan debt means for young people. According to the Pew Research Center, 3 in 10 young adults now live with their parents, a steep increase from recent years. That increase is largely attributable to soaring student loan debt.

President Obama’s solution? He’s visited campuses in swing states to urge Congress to extend a stimulus provision to keep interest rates on student loans low for another year. Yet when the Republican-led House passed this very plan, with provisions to ensure it would not add to the deficit, Obama vowed to veto it. Because of Obama’s partisan games, 7 million student borrowers may see the interest rate on their student loans climb to 6.8 percent in July.

Does President Obama think young people are so dense that we’ll buy into his rhetoric and never catch when his promises don’t pan out? You fooled us once, President Obama, but you won’t fool us twice.

Horrifyingly high student loan debt is hardly the end of the difficulties the Obama administration’s policies have wrought on young people. Under Obama’s economic “recovery,” unemployment among young people sits at 16.5 percent — about twice the national average. When you factor in the people who have stopped looking for work and the people who are underemployed, the picture becomes even worse. Barely half of Americans my age have jobs commensurate with their skills. Young people are pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into their degrees only to graduate into one of the grimmest job markets in history.

How can President Obama convince young voters, especially those recently out of college who have attempted to enter the labor force and have begun paying back student loans, that his policies have made things better for them? He can’t. And the polls are beginning to show it.

In March of 2012, the Harvard Institute of Politics released a study showing that 74% of young people ages 18-29 considered jobs and the economy to be the number one voting issue going into 2012.

Considering Obama’s abysmal record with young people, the youth vote must be considered up for grabs. But winning it will take work.

That’s why the College Republican National Committee, the umbrella organization for a quarter million College Republicans across the country, is working hard to elect Mitt Romney — a candidate with a real plan to improve the job market for young people and reverse the economic crisis in this country.

This election will be close and will come down to a few target demographics: youth being among the most important. Since 2008, 8 million new voters have come of age. To target these new voters and disillusioned former Obama supporters, the CRNC is deploying its largest grassroots field program ever, placing 60 paid field staff in targeted states to work full-time in August. The field staffers expect to make 6 million voter contacts and recruit 50,000 new College Republicans.

Scott Rasmussen may say Republicans have no chance of winning the youth vote. But we’re determined to try and prove him wrong.

Alyssa Farah is the communications director for the College Republican National Committee.