Some analysts predicted that young voters would not turn out for this election in the same numbers they did in 2008. But by election day, 49 percent of young voters nationwide cast a ballot, according to Tuft University’s The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement.
We caught up with some of the people we featured in our “Voices of Young Voters” series this election season, to talk about their reactions to the results, and their hopes and fears for the next four years.
Twenty-four year old Julia Rabadi is the president of the College Republicans at Portland State University. A few weeks ago, she explained why she’d be voting for Mitt Romney:
“The beliefs I grew up with are synonymous with the Republican party,” said Rabadi. “I grew up with immigrant parents who taught us that hard work is everything you should strive for, the success is everything you should strive for.”
As you might expect, Rabadi wasn’t please with Tuesday’s outcome.
“The next four years are going to be like the last four years, only worse. I’m graduating this year. I’m going to go into a work force that is going to have so many leashes on it that it’s not going to be able to thrive. I don’t know what the prospects are going to be. I have no idea what’s going to happen,” said Rabadi.
Mallory Livingston in La Grande had a different reaction to Tuesday’s results. When I talked with her in October, she said she had a personal stake in one main issue: samisen marriage. Her best friend is gay.
“He came out probably in our sophomore in high school,” said Livingston. “It’s helped my develop my views on this issues because, because though I don’t necessarily agree with it in a moral way I also believe from a scientific way it’s not something you can choose, and I also would never want to get in the way of his happiness either.”
After Obama won, I checked back in with Livingston from the campus of Eastern Oregon University.
“I think Obama is what the country needs right now. The prospects for marriage equality is much higher with Obama as president. I think that’s highly important—not only because I have a homosexual best friend, but because I don’t think we should as people get in the way and make laws about how other people should live their lives as individuals,” said Livingston.
While turnout for young people was relat lively high this year, I did speak with many young people who said they weren’t going to vote.
Eighteen-year-old Kira Mocan in La Pine was one of them. When I met her, she was carrying a backpack and a skateboard, and she had a strong idea for what the next four years will look like for her:
“I’m about to go into the Marines. The military is important because—it’s for our safety, it’s for our freedom and it’s important to me because my Papa was a marine and they get a lot of respect. For us to fight for people to say whatever they want—it’s a big deal to me. So if someone is talking crap about the military (which I really don’t like) it’s like, we are fighting for the right to say that. ”
When I caught up with her this week she was disappointed that Obama had been reelected.
“I’m very scared about him being president because there were statements made that he was going to cut the military down, and take might out of Iraq so we wouldn’t have a job and stuff like that. I’m really worried about the situations of the military, but he didn’t do anything the past four years so he might not do anything these next four years.”
In Portland, I checked back in with one recent college graduate who had told me her passion is the environment. After leaving the church she grew up in, Karisa Mueller had a realization.
“Instead of looking to some divine power to fix all the problems in the world, we all has a human race need to take it into our own hands and take accountability into our own hands,” said Mueller.
Mueller voted for Obama this week. But when I checked back in with her, she wasn’t completely content.
“I was definitely happy that Obama won over Mitt Romney, because as I said before the environmental issues are most important to me. I do think it’s unfair that we don’t have more of a three-party system, or you know, anything more than just the two parties,” said Mueller.
Many of the young people we spoke to both before and after the election said they really care about the issues they had a stake in and how those issues would play out in their future.
Lucila Cejas Epple contributed to this story. Our sources for this feature came to OPB through our Public Insight Netwok. Learn how you can become a source, share your stories and experience, and help shape our news coverage at www.opb.org/publicinsight.