DAVIS-JONES COULD CATCH UP...IF THE YOUTH VOTE TURNS OUT
Florida voters aged 18-24 cast their ballots solidly for Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, 62-37 percent, two years ago. That is according to the nonprofit research organization CIRCLE based at the University of Maryland's School of Public Policy. The problem is, only 21 percent of voters in that age block bothered to vote.
Florida's 18-29 year old population is over 2.2 million, reflecting 18.6 percent of the state's total population. The good news is that 48.8 percent of that group voted in the 2004 presidential election, an increase of 8.6 percent from 2000. But this is a midterm election, when all turnouts tend to be significantly lower. And among the youth vote, only 23.3 percent bothererd to cast ballots two years ago.
The youth vote, while concerned about the economy and the U.S. involvement in Iraq, have their own issues that many feel are not being addressed by either major gubernatorial candidate. Tops among those is the rising cost of a college education in Florida and the need for more financial aid for students from low and middle income families.
In a national poll of 650 18-to-30 year olds conducted by phone last month, education and the cost of college was the top issue mentioned, with the economy and Iraq also being mentioned. Of those surveyed, 42 percent said they were registered Democrats, with 29 percent Republican and 17 percent registered independent. The margin of error was +/- 4.4 percent. The poll was conducted by Young Voter Strategies, a nonpartisan project at George Washington University.
If the Davis-Jones ticket hopes to make it a close race with just over two weeks left before the general election, they need to make a strong push for the youth vote and let them know how important this election is for all Floridians, but especially for them...make it personal. Don't give the same stump speech that's given to other groups...talk about their issues, and --- again --- make is PERSONAL.