President Obama renewed his pitch to young Americans, who vote overwhelmingly Democratic — but only when they show up to the polls at all.
Turnout was the theme Tuesday as the president rallied a crowd at Iowa State University. Obama urged young people to take charge of their own futures by voting. “Here’s the thing, your generation chooses which path we take as a country,” Obama said. “Your vote decides where we go from here.”
Millennials comprised 17 percent of the electorate in 2008 and voted for Obama by a 2-to-1 margin. Obama has little room for a backslide among this crucial cohort.
“The truth is you got more at stake in this election than just about anybody,” Obama said. “When you step into that voting booth, the choice you make in that one instant will shape your country and your world for decades to come. I know that’s a pretty heavy [thing] to lay on you on a Tuesday, but it’s true.”
Though his speech contained his usual pitch to voters — he touted student loan reform, energy policy and the end of the Iraq war — the president framed those achievements as ones accomplished by “you,” addressing his young audience.
“Don’t believe them when they tell you you can’t make a difference,” Obama said. “Your vote made that happen. You made that change. Your vote ended ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ once and for all.”
Obama’s final pitch: Don’t believe in my ability to bring about change, believe in your own.
Polls show that young people still overwhelmingly support President Obama, and Iowa is no exception. The latest poll of Iowa, from Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling, showed Obama leading Romney by just 2 points overall, but up by 24 points over Mitt Romney among 18- to 29-year-olds, 57 percent to 33 percent.
Obama also touted his health care plan, which is popular among young people because of its provisions allowing them to stay on a parent’s health plan until age 26. He joked that Romney’s plan to repeal “Obamacare” should be called “Romney doesn’t care.”
Obama acknowledged the Republican National Convention, which was just getting under way as he spoke. Obama said the confab “should be a pretty entertaining show” and predicted “they’ll have some wonderful things to say about me.”
Pema Levy is a News Writer at TPM covering the 2012 election. Before coming to TPM, Pema was an assistant editor at The American Prospect where she wrote about politics and the economy.