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Election 2014: Obama woos Millennials at 'tech incubator'

Young adults are critical to Democrats' chances in Nov. 4 midterms. President Obama will acknowledge their job and student-debt woes, while touting gains in health coverage and employment. 

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President Barack Obama smiles as he walks from the Oval Office and across the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, to board Marine One for a short trip to Andrews Air Force Base, Md., before traveling to New York.

Carolyn Kaster/AP

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President Obama reaches out Thursday to young voters, a key demographic for Democrats in next month’s midterm elections.

The president is speaking in mid-afternoon at a Los Angeles-area tech company. He will highlight “the important economic progress our country has made and one generation in particular – Millennials – who will shape our economy for decades to come,” according to White House press guidance.

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“Millennials” are those born between 1980 and the mid-2000s, a cohort that is the most diverse, educated, and tech-savvy in American history. But many Millennials are also saddled with student debt and faced bleak job prospects when they entered the workforce during the recession that began in late 2007.

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A study by Harvard University’s Institute of Politics last spring showed that fewer than one-quarter (23 percent) of 18- to 29-year-olds say they will “definitely be voting” in November, down from 34 percent late last year. The poll also found that 44 percent of young people who voted for Republican Mitt Romney for president in 2012 “definitely” plan to vote, versus only 35 percent of young Obama voters.

Obama will be speaking at so-called “tech incubator” Cross Campus in Santa Monica, Calif., which the White House describes as “a collaborative space that brings together freelancers, creative professionals, entrepreneurs, and venture capitalist-funded startup teams.”

Obama plans to make the case for progress made during his administration, while also acknowledging the challenges young adults have faced as they entered the workforce during trying economic times, according to news reports.

Last week, the White House’s Council of Economic Advisers put out a 49-page report called “15 Economic Facts About Millennials.”

“Their early adult lives have been shaped by the experience of establishing their careers at a time when economic opportunities are relatively scarce,” the report says. “Today, although the economy is well into its recovery, the recession still affects lives of Millennials and will likely continue to do so for years to come.”

Millennial unemployment is at 8.6 percent, higher than the September jobless figure of 5.9 percent for the American population as a whole, but declining as the economy recovers.

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One point the president is expected to tout Thursday is the popular provision of the Affordable Care Act that allows young adults up to the age of 26 to stay on their parents' health plan. In addition, young adults with low income, and not covered by their parents, have been getting subsidies under the ACA to purchase coverage.

Between 2010 and the first quarter of 2014, the uninsurance rate among people aged 19 to 25 fell by 13.2 percentage points, a 40 percent decline, the White House report says.

Like the Democrats, conservatives are investing in outreach to young voters. This week the political advocacy group Americans for Prosperity launched a six-figure initiative aimed at Millennials. The campaign, called Defending Your Dream, is operating in states where Democrats are fighting to hold onto vulnerable Senate seats: Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Louisiana, and North Carolina. Republicans need a net gain of six seats to take over the Senate. 

While in Los Angeles, Obama also will appear at a fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee at a private residence.