September 27th, 2010
06:05 PM ET
4 years ago

Obama to students: Get involved in midterms

Washington (CNN) – President Barack Obama made an urgent plea Monday for college students to get more involved in the upcoming November midterm elections, warning that a disengaged youth vote could lead to major policy reversals over the next two years.

Speaking on a conference call to student journalists, the president said he wanted to send a message to "young people across the country [about] how important this election is."


Obama said that two years of bitter partisan conflict on Capitol Hill and elsewhere had turned off new voters that had played a key role in his 2008 campaign.

"Naturally some of the excitement and enthusiasm began to drain away," Obama said. While his administration has succeeded in pushing through significant changes in areas such as health care and student loan funding, it seems to many people "like a lot of the old politics is still operation."

But the political process usually involves taking "two steps forward [and] one step back," he said. "It's not always fun and games." You can't expect lasting change if you only engage "once every 10 years in an exciting presidential election" and then "sit it out."

Obama warned the students that the GOP push to extend all of the Bush tax cuts - including for families making over $250,000 - could result in student
loan cuts, among other things.

"Democracy is never a 'one and done' proposition," he said. "I want everyone to be well-informed and to participate" in the November elections.

Democrats are currently struggling with what many political analysts believe is a major enthusiasm gap between liberals and conservatives. More conservative activists - spurred in part by the Tea Party movement - appear far more energized for the stretch run to November.

A sluggish economic recovery, meanwhile, is threatening to turn independent voters back to the GOP while contributing to a growing disaffection among many Democrats.

Obama is scheduled to deliver a series of campaign-style speeches in swing states across the country this week. He'll be in New Mexico and Wisconsin on Tuesday, and Iowa and Virginia on Wednesday. The president will participate in a Democratic National Committee rally in Madison, Wisconsin - home of the University of Wisconsin and a major Democratic stronghold.

Younger Americans backed Obama overwhelmingly in 2008. Voters age 18 to 29 supported him over Republican nominee John McCain by a whopping 34-point margin, 66 to 32 percent.


Filed under: 2010 • Democrats • President Obama
soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. jillib

    Young people need to get involved – this is their futures as well as our own that we're dealing with. Apathy just doesn't cut it.

    September 27, 2010 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  2. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    President Obama is successfully turning this economy around and the Republicans know this. Repulicans haven't did any heavy lifting to help but they are hoping we will buy into their lies. Republicans have failed the American people whom they placed their hand on the Bible and took an oath and now they put out a pledge, what happened to their oath. If our military men and women failed to uphold their duties like the Republicans they would be court marshalled for "DERELICTION OF DUTY".

    September 27, 2010 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  3. Anonymous

    The President needs to urge ALL people of voting age to participate. It doesn't matter which party – JUST VOTE!
    Only 22% of the country elects our officials- there is never a majority- voice. We need to start having one.

    September 27, 2010 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  4. Dennis

    I doubt Obama wants many of us midldle aged middle class voters getting invovled, but we will. He won't like the results.

    September 27, 2010 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  5. GOP Scorched Earth Politics

    The youth gets it and overwhelming votes Democrat. Whereas the GOP is the polar opposite. Old, Angry, Bitter, Bigoted and stuck in the past = the Republican base.

    September 27, 2010 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  6. Peter E

    College students don't care about getting seriously involved. Sure, a handful of them will show up at rallies, high as a kite, and chant Obama's name, mainly to impress some cute girl. They may even have learned a few tired talking points about women's right to choose, or something about equal rights for gays. But at the end of the day they are still just absorbed in their own little world, not bothering to read news stories, check the facts, or even learn the name of candidates. 'Oh man, you gotta like register to vote? I guess I should do that. Maybe next week when I have more time...'

    September 27, 2010 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  7. DENNA

    President Obama is absolutely right. These young people, no matter what party, are the voters of tomorrow and need to be heard now. I shudder to think that a college educated person would be a part of the Tea Party, but breeding tells. If they've come from that kind of environment, then they may also think that way. Nonetheless, young people must become accustomed to making their voice heard. They are the future.

    September 27, 2010 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  8. Limbaugh is a liberal

    It is a shame that in the most modern, richest democracy in the world we still have such issues with voter turnout. College students, educated, intelligent, foresighted, and better informed than the average American hardly vote at all, while partisan hacks who don't bother to ever check facts, just parrot pundit talking points and pull the straight-ticket lever for the party they have always voted for, most of the time not even knowing who is running or even what seats are up for grabs. Isn't the whole idea of democracy that more people with more thinking come up with better governing for all? In America we don't have thinking voters. We have partisan zombies.

    September 27, 2010 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  9. Hugo

    Yes youngsters get involved...only this time talk to your mothers and fathers before buying in to the liberal philosophy spin from our hipster in Chief. Ask why so many in your colleges are unable to write a complete sentence or comprehend higher mathematics. Ask yourselves why you cannot find a job upon graduating, ask why on earth our current Government would want access to your FACE book and email traffic based on the minuscule occurrence of "terrorist" activity by some Islamic nut that anyone with a brain could target readily. Same old expansion of government tactics, someone got sick eating an egg so they regulate the chicken! Figure out that you are all Americans and what responsibility that truly means, liberty is not free and if you allow, the Democrats will gladly regulate that freedom away form you that you've grown so accustom to.

    September 27, 2010 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  10. Orlando Patriot

    So let me see if I get this straight.... The informed voter finally realized that this snake oil president sold a bill of goods and now realize this Community Organizer misled the American public and is going to start the "fix" to this problem in November. The Democrats realize that the American public can see right through their lies and lack of care for what the citizens of this great country recognize as needed to correct this mistake of an administration. So what is the Obama administration to do??? Well, find a batch of UNINFORMED voters that couldn't find the United States on a map or have any IDEA what the Constitution is. Sorry Obama, you have screwed this country SO BADLY that you have created an uprising. We will be out in full force in November with our pitchforks (symbolically speaking) and getting rid of the Democratic politicians that assisted you in getting us in this mess!!

    "We'll remember in November"

    September 27, 2010 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  11. Ann

    Go President Obama !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    You are a good example for young people in America as to what hard work and a good education can do. These Republican/Tea Party types can oly set the example of fear mongering, race baiting and hate speech. The Republican/Tea Party types act as if a good education means you are en elite as if something is wrong with that. Tell the Young people what is really going on so that they do not fall for the insult to their intelligence..

    September 27, 2010 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  12. jim

    Of course Obama wants young people to go out and vote. Most of these voters have been brainwashed by the education system to vote for democrats by liberals minded educators that have the most to gain by a system they prosper from.The teacher's union is a tool of the democratic party.Our children have been taught for years that the government is their only salvationand that they need more of it in order to survive.

    September 27, 2010 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  13. The reality is...

    Yes, get involved, and keep in mind that Obamacare will REQUIRE you to buy health insurance even if you don't want it. We have never had such a blatant disregard for our Constitutional rights. If this health care bill is not repealed and if enough of the Democrats hold the power in Congress you will find yourselves with far less freedom, access to far worse health care and further down the road to a nation changed by a radical Socialists. YES, GET INVOLVED AND VOTE FOR THOSE WHO WILL HELP DOWNSIZE GOVERNMENT AND IT'S CONTROL OVER YOUR LIVES.

    September 27, 2010 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  14. The reality is...

    Yes, get involved, and keep in mind that Obamacare will REQUIRE you to buy health insurance even if you don't want it. We have never had such a blatant disregard for our Constitutional rights. If this health care bill is not repealed and if enough of the Democrats hold the power in Congress you will find yourselves with far less freedom, access to far worse health care and further down the road to a nation changed by radical Socialists. YES, GET INVOLVED AND VOTE FOR THOSE WHO WILL HELP DOWNSIZE GOVERNMENT AND IT'S CONTROL OVER YOUR LIVES.

    September 27, 2010 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  15. felicia

    I totally agree, we need to make sure to YES WE CAN, and NO TI THE GOP. The gop has lost their way and they are bitter sore losers. So they rather see thewhole country burn in he!! than to see MY PRESIDENT succeed. So young people VOTE DEMOCRAT ON NOV. 2ND

    September 27, 2010 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  16. Peace

    Young Americans should understand that everything we do in life follow steps until the achievement is reached. They should remember how they solve the equation (in Mathematics), until to reach the final answer. They don't reach the answer without following the necessary steps. So does in voting. In 2008 election was step one and 2010 is step two. in 2012 will be step three. Follow all these steps and you will reach finally to the anticipated results.

    September 27, 2010 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |