TAMPA, FL — When President Barack Obama was swept into office in 2008, a large part of his victory was because of the historic level of support he received from young voters.
Exit polls from that election show that 66 percent of voters under 30 cast ballots for Obama — more than double the 31 percent that Republican John McCain netted. That gap was the largest since exit polling started in 1972.
But Cody Baker, a student at Southeast Missouri University and the state's youngest delegate to the Republican National Convention, says Obama is not going to achieve that level of the success this time around.
The reason? Young people are worried about getting jobs when they get out of college, the 20-year-old from Jefferson County said.
"There are a lot of people who were in my high school in 2008 who supported Obama — even though most of them couldn't vote," he said. "They have turned and have said that was not a good choice. They’re tired of feeling like they have just been forgotten, so they’re ready for some real change."
"We want to have jobs whenever we graduate from college and the way conditions are right now, that’s not the way it’s going to be," added Baker, who is a junior at SMU. "We’re going to be graduating from college and flipping burgers at McDonald’s. While that’s a great place to start, we have a college degree and that’s not where we need to be."
Baker added that many students he knows plan to vote for Republican Mitt Romney in November and that he doesn't see Obama coming close to winning the youth vote by the same margin he did four years ago.
"Unemployment with young people is very high and we’re disappointed with the way things are going," he said. "Obama did take the young vote in record numbers last time, but this time he’s losing that margin very quickly."
A recent poll by by CNN/Opinion Research indicates that Obama's support among young voters does appear to be softening. That poll shows Obama leads Republican challenger Mitt Romney among registered voters by a 56 percent to 37 percentage margin. That's still a hefty lead, but it's down from Obama's margin of victory in 2008. Plus, there's no telling how many young people will actually show up at the polls in November.
In addition to being worried about jobs, Baker said young people are troubled by the national debt — which now stand about about $16 trillion.
"They’re tired of more and more debt," he said. "What’s happening now is being laid on us to take care of later, and that’ s not the way it should be taken care of.
"We don’t need to have the debt taken care of by us or our kids, or our grandkids," Baker said. "It needs to be taken care of now."