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Youth vote not as fired up as in 2008. Could that trip up Obama?

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Polls show that young voters are less enthusiastic this year, and turnout may drop after steady gains in each election since 1996 (when youth turnout was at an all-time low). While young people still overwhelmingly support Obama over Mr. Romney, the margins aren’t as wide as they were four years ago when Senator McCain was the Republican nominee.

Obama “has a number of different pathways that I think can get him [to victory], but this is an important group,” says Scott Keeter, survey director for the Pew Research Center. “And I think the fact that it’s more up for grabs, both in terms of the split in vote among young people and in terms of the enthusiasm, is one reason the Obama campaign has been stressing social issues more at the end of the campaign.”

At an Obama rally at Boulder’s CU campus just five days before the election – his third visit there this year – Sen. Michael Bennett (D) of Colorado, in remarks to the crowd of 10,000 before Obama arrived, hit hard on those social issues – which are often important to younger voters in particular.

“Every vote is going to matter,” Senator Bennett told the crowd, many of them college students. “We need to vote today so we can make college more affordable, so we can make sure every young person can get a good education…. We need you to vote to keep politicians out of decisions best left to a woman and her doctor. We need you to vote to protect the rights of our LGBT friends…. That’s what’s at stake, Colorado, that’s the choice in this election.”

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