An Obama loss could discourage blacks, youth

Regina Garcia Cano

Campaign ingnited activism and defeat may result in letdown

Having an uncommon candidate running for president, some politicians say, is increasing young voters’ activism in the presidential election.

“Barack Obama is an interesting, unusual candidate, (with an) unusual background, and who has really tried to appeal more directly to younger people than almost anyone before,” said Richard Robyn, assistant professor of political science. “Obama has really tried with his Web site, with text messaging – adding various innovations to his campaign which have, I think, energized more young people to be involved.”

Robyn said Obama also attracts young voters because of his policies regarding higher education. But, his personal characteristics are also a plus.

“He is younger, of course more active, (and) he likes cool music,” he said.

But what would happen if the candidate with the majority of support from young voters does not win?

“There’s going to be great, great disappointment,” Robyn said. “Polls show something like 98 percent (of the black community) supports Barack Obama. That’s off the charts in terms of support.

“There’s a lot of emotion behind that, too. If he loses, there will be tremendous disappointment, not only from the African-American community, but also (from) a lot of people who support him.”

The effects of his loss will not only be limited to the black community – youth’s views on voting may also change.

“It will discourage first-time voters to vote again,” said Ashleigh Mills, senior applied communications major. “They’ll feel like they were kicked down again.

Mills said Obama’s defeat may also result in less involment from the black community in the 2012 election.

“It will make a lot of black voters really think that their vote doesn’t count,” Mills said. “It will discourage them from voting, it’s said, but it may happen.

… Personally, I would still vote in upcoming elections, but I would question the electoral system.”

Robyn Manley, freshman fashion merchandising major, said the Democratic candidate’s passion for helping everyone, regardless of race, is clear. For Manley, Obama’s defeat would be “like death.”

“I would be really hurt,” Manley said. “It’s going to be a really sad day in America. A lot of people would feel just disappointed that we almost had a chance to have a man of such greatness in office.”

Robyn said the defeat could have an effect in popular culture.

“If that’s how the election turns out, in TV and in movies, you might see reflected the anger and pain,” Robyn said.

Robyn said other reasons for youth activism in the presidential race is directly related to the country’s economic situation. Also, he said, this time young voters do not have the excuse of the same old politicians.

“The election itself might be of the general interest because it is the first time in almost 100 years that we don’t have an incumbent for president or vice president,” Robyn said. “All four are new to this race, new for the electorate.”

Contact minority affairs reporter Regina Garcia Cano at [email protected].