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Students, Young Voters Ignored by Midterm Candidates

Political candidates and campaigns turned off younger voters, a demographic that turned out in droves only two years ago.


According to analysis from exit polls conducted yesterday, CIRCLE (The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University) estimates that a little more than 20 percent of young people (18 to 29) voted in yesterday's midterm election. That's slightly down from the 2006, when 23 percent of the demographic voted.

During a conference call with reporters this morning, representatives from Rock the Vote and The League of Young Voters noted that voter participation campaigns their organizations (and others like them) ran were successful at getting young people to polls. In particular, Rock the Vote efforts in Florida, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania (which focused on campuses, such as the University of Florida, University of North Carolina, Drexel, and the University of Pennsylvania), increased turnout by between 25 perent and 100 percent said its president, Heather Smith. The young people that did turn out, according to CIRCLE's analysis, tended to favor Democrats—a pattern that arose in 2002—with 56 percent pulling the lever for Obama's party (compared with 40 percent voting Republican).


But, unfortunately, whereas these outreach efforts were effective in motivating students and young adults, the tone of the campaign and the candidates themselves turned off the youth vote. According to Smith:

The Republicans could have chipped away at the partisan voting behavior of this young voter bloc. Instead the margins remain unchanged compared to 2006, in terms of their Democratic favorability. And second, I believe the Democrats could have seen a very different outcome had they engaged in targeting young voters. Regardless, with high unemployment, personal and national rising debt, young Americans really face real challenges and what they saw from candidates and outside interest groups was quite disconnected and irrelevant to their lives and concerns.

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The experts noted both a "leadership gap" and a "boldness gap" that kept young people from the polls. Issues important to 18- to 29-year-olds, such as unemployment, cost of college, and climate change were overshadowed by partisan bickering, they say. Even the debate on the health care bill seemed to miss this crucial group, according to Smith:

The health care issue during the campaign was really being used as a repeal the Obama health care act versus not. And that was a major talking point of the Republicans and in particular the Tea Party that was being used to motivate and anger older voters. What we saw was the president start to do was message around the fact that you can stay on your parents health care plan until the age of 26, but the candidates weren't running on that. the bottom line is that young people are just simply not motivated right now by anger. And older people are quite angry.

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Ultimately, the sophisticated campaign run by Barack Obama in 2008 failed to give rise to a sustained effort at keeping 18- to 29-year-olds engaged, transitioning their attention from campaigning to governing. Whereas many candidates, Democrats in particular, could attribute at least part of their election in 2008 to increased enthusiasm and turnout amongst young people, they seemed to turn their back on the demographic, which the experts say remains optimistic about its future, this time around.

CIRCLE Director Peter Levine said that the 21st century campaigning showcased in 2008 seemed to give way to more traditional methods this year:

We've gone through a period where there's been a lot of innovation and risk-taking in getting out young people, some of it technological and some of it strategic, like a different kind of messaging and also a willingness to trust a lot of responsibility to young volunteers as the Obama campaign did. So, I think it's surprising and distressing that there hasn't been any innovation or risk-taking or creativity since the 2008 election by the political class.

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Photo via CIRCLE.

Articles

Looking back, the year 1995 seems like such an innocent time. America was in the midst of its longest streak of peace and prosperity. September 11, 2001 was six years away, and the internet didn't seem like much more than a passing fad.

Twenty-four years ago, 18 million U.S. homes had modem-equipped computers, 7 million more than the year before. Most logged in through America Online where they got their email or communicated with random strangers in chat rooms.

According to a Pew Research study that year, only 32% of those who go online say they would miss it "a lot" if no longer available.

Imagine what those poll numbers would look like if the question was asked today.

RELATED: Bill and Melinda Gates had a surprising answer when asked about a 70 percent tax on the wealthiest Americans

"Few see online activities as essential to them, and no single online feature, with the exception of E-Mail, is used with any regularity," the Pew article said. "Consumers have yet to begin purchasing goods and services online, and there is little indication that online news features are changing traditional news consumption patterns."

"Late Night" host David Letterman had Microsoft founder and, at that time the richest man in the world, on his show for an interview in '95 to discuss the "the big new thing."

During the interview Letterman chided Gates about the usefulness of the new technology, comparing it to radio and tape recorders.

Gates seems excited by the internet because it will soon allow people to listen to a baseball game on their computer. To which Letterman smugly replies, "Does radio ring a bell?" to laughter from the crowd.

But Gates presses Letterman saying that the new technology allows you to listen to the game "whenever you want," to which Letterman responds, "Do tape recorders ring a bell?"

Gates then tells Letterman he can keep up with the latest in his favorite hobbies such as cigar smoking or race cars through the internet. Letterman shuts him down saying that he reads about his interests in magazines.

RELATED: Bill Gates has five books he thinks you should read this summer.

The discussion ends with the two laughing over meeting like-minded people in "troubled loner chat room on the internet."

The clip brings to mind a 1994 segment on "The Today Show" where host Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric have a similar discussion.

"What is internet anyway?" an exasperated Gumball asks. "What do you write to it like mail?"

"It's a computer billboard but it's nationwide and it's several universities all joined together and it's getting bigger and bigger all the time," a producer explains from off-stage.





Culture
via The Howard Stern Show / YouTube

Former Secretary of State, first lady, and winner of the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton, sat own for an epic, two-and-a--half hour interview with Howard Stern on his SiriusXM show Wednesday.

She was there to promote "The Book of Gutsy Women," a book about heroic women co-written with her daughter, Chelsea Clinton.

In the far-reaching conversation, Clinton and the self-proclaimed "King of All Media" and, without a doubt, the best interviewer in America discussed everything from Donald Trump's inauguration to her sexuality.

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Politics

The healthcare systems in the United States and the United Kingdom couldn't be more different.

The UK's National Health Service is the largest government-run healthcare system in the world and the US's is largest private sector system.

Almost all essential health services in the UK are free, whereas in America cost can vary wildly based on insurance, co pays and what the hospitals and physicians choose to charge.

A medical bill in the US

One of the largest differences is cost. The average person in the UK spends £2,989 ($3915) per year on healthcare (most of which is collected through taxes), whereas the average American spends around $10,739 a year.

So Americans should obviously be getting better care, right? Well, the average life expectancy in the UK is higher and infant mortality rate is lower than that in the US.

RELATED: The World Health Organization declares war on the out of control price of insulin

Plus, in the U.S., only 84% of people are covered by private insurance, Medicare or Medicaid. Sixteen percent of the population are forced to pay out of pocket.

In the UK, everyone is covered unless they are visiting the country or an undocumented resident.

Prescription drugs can cost Americans an arm and a leg, but in the UK, prescriptions or either free or capped at £8.60 ($11.27).

via Wikimedia Commons

The one drawback to the NHS system is responsiveness. In the UK people tend to wait longer for inessential surgeries, doctor's appointments, and in emergency rooms. Whereas, the US is ranked as the most responsive country in the world.

RELATED: Alarmingly high insulin prices are forcing Americans to flock to Canada to buy the drug

The New York Times printed a fair evaluation of the UK's system:

The service is known for its simplicity: It is free at the point of use to anyone who needs it. Paperwork is minimal, and most patients never see a bill. … No one needs to delay medical treatment until he or she can afford it, and virtually everyone is covered. …

According to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United States spent 17.2 percent of its economic output on health care in 2016, compared with 9.7 percent in Britain. Yet Britain has a higher life expectancy at birth and lower infant mortality.

Citizens in each country have an interesting perspective on each other's healthcare systems. UK citizens think it's inhumane for Americans have to pay through the nose when they're sick or injured. While Americans are skeptical of socialist medicine.

A reporter from Politics Joe hit the streets of London and asked everyday people what they think Americans pay for healthcare and they were completely shocked.

Health