Young voters in the area appear to be bucking national trends that indicate the under-30 age group prefers President Barack Obama over Gov. Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election.
An informal survey of registered young voters at East Central College, revealed many students are still unsure who they will vote for. Many have disengaged themselves from the election altogether, saying they haven’t followed conventions, campaigns, ads, debates or other election coverage closely.
Morgan Naber, 19, of Washington, said she hasn’t thought too much about the election and is still undecided about whether or not she will vote.
“I really haven’t paid attention to any of their campaigning, so I don’t know much about either (candidate).”
The latest Pew Research Center survey, conducted mid-September, reported the national share of voters under 30 following the campaign is about half of what it was at the same point in the 2008 election.
Among students who said they had chosen a candidate, many seemed to be making their decision on one specific issue, rather than a platform.
Issues included health care, human rights, disabilities and education.
William, 22, of California state, preferred not to give his last name and explained he supported Obama in the last election because of his promise to end American combat in the Middle East.
“I wasn’t for 100 years of war,” he said.
This year, William has yet to decide which box to check at the polls. He suspects his vote won’t weigh much because the Electoral College has the deciding power in presidential races.
“(The candidates) promise you the world,” he said, “even though they won’t give it.”
Husband and wife, Brian*, 22, and Angelica, 21, Bolzenius, of Jefferson City, have avoided exposure to the race because they don’t have cable.
Angelica Bolzenius, a first-time voter, said she felt like she doesn’t know enough about the individual candidates to make an educated vote just yet.
“I know what the parties (stand for) but the candidates are different,” she said.
Nick Bolzenius, who first voted in the 2008 election, said he has not followed election coverage as much as he did when he first had a chance to vote.
Although, that doesn’t mean he’s made up his mind about whom to support this time around.
The couple said they will likely talk more with friends and peers before making a final decision.
Favorable Gap Closing
With little less than a month to go before Election Day, President Obama holds a smaller margin of favor over Romney among voters under 30 than he did over his 2008 challenger.
According to additional Pew data, in 2008 voters under 30 favored Obama over John McCain 66 to 32 percent.
Last month, 59 percent of voters in the same age group preferred Obama and 35 percent preferred Romney.
As a “strict Republican” Brianna Carter, 19, of Pacific, said she definitely will cast her vote for Romney.
Luke Myers, 18, of Robertsville, also favors Romney.
“I don’t see the other ... candidate as doing a very good job,” Myers said.
Dismayed With Obama
A 19-year-old female from Bourbon said she will vote for Romney if she makes it to the polls.
“I hate the Obamacare problems with a passion,” she said.
Carly Schreiner, 20, of Hermann, said she originally wasn’t planning to vote, but because she does not want to see Obama return to office she has reconsidered a trip to the polls.
Heather DeJack, 23, of Union, said she doesn’t prefer either candidate.
However, she feels Obama is a better candidate than Romney.
“I have a lot of friends in the (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) community. Romney is against giving them their rights,” she said.
“I know there are some way bigger issues, but you just can’t deny people their basic human rights.”
Still, DeJack said Obama should not consider his first term a success when looking at the state of the economy, the health care industry and many small business failures.
“He’s really screwing a lot of people over (with Obamacare),” she said.
An issue that hit home with Tiffany Sellers, 18, St. Clair, is the continuance of the federal financial aid program for students.
“Romney wants to take away financial aid for students and that’s what I go to school on.”
Villa Ridge resident Francine Lindemann, 19, just hopes for some kind of progress.
“I like change a lot. I feel like (I will vote for) whichever presidential candidate can give a real change and bring out the best for our country and the world,” she said.
John Hood, 18, of Union, expressed concern over disabilities.
“I will vote for the person who focuses the most on disability issues,” he said.
Hood added that he doesn’t expect America to be disability-free, but the candidate he chooses will focus on what America can do for disabilities by making sure disabilities are cared for.
*A previous version of this story misidentified Brian Bolzenius, 22, as Nick Bolzenius. The Missourian regrets this error.