Panelists discuss Obama’s youth appeal
Presidential candidate Barack Obama is getting an extra boost in the election race not just because of his personality, but also because he has embraced the multimedia culture that surrounds young voters.
This was the observation of the panelists for “Why Young Voters Care Again” at the Conference of World Affairs on Wednesday.
Sasha Cagen, a panelist and social media entrepreneur and author, said the Internet and other forms of media have exposed younger voters to the presidential campaigns.
On one Web site Cagen mentioned, Is Your Mama for Obama?, young supporters who are both under and over 18 can send texts to their parents reminding them to vote for Obama.
Senior marketing major Zach Rabun said he feels like the liberal candidates are using the media to their advantage, while conservatives are falling behind.
“I think a lot of the liberal candidates have an edge,” Rabun said. “They talked a lot about how Obama is using networking and gaining an advantage through that, so I think that accesses the youth a lot more. If the conservatives don’t get in line and start using those same channels, they’re going to fall behind in the youth vote.”
Multimedia is not the only way that Obama attracts young voters.
Mary Hughes, a panelist and political consultant, said young people are attracted to Obama because of how he walks and talks – something she calls the “Obama Flu.”
Senior political science major Quinn Crist-Fulk said he agreed with Hughe. He said he felt like Obama was someone he could hang out with and relate to better than George Bush.
“Mary Hughes hit on something very important when she said that Obama was very romantic combination,” Crist-Fulk said. “He speaks so well, he watches ‘The Wire’ like I do, and he listens to Kanye. Yeah, I can have a beer with Bush, like having a beer with one of my friend’s fathers, but I can have a beer with Obama legitimately, like he’s a friend.”
Hughes added that because young voters are drawn to Obama, they are becoming more involved with the election overall.
Freshman environmental studies major Jeffrey Wagner said he has seen a lot of people become active in campaigns for the first time this year.
“It has affected me,” Wagner said. “I helped out and volunteered for Obama. (The ‘Obama Flu’) started out small a couple of months ago, but it’s gotten bigger.”
Contact Campus Press Staff Writer Philip Fisher at Philip.Fisher@colorado.edu.