The worst thing for a group of voters to be is perfectly predictable. Whether it’s a state or a specific demographic, it is always in a group’s best interest for the candidates and parties to vie for your vote as they worry about which way you will vote. Once candidates and parties take your support for granted, they need not worry about actually working for you.
Either party, once in power, will have much more pressing priorities to accomplish to woo the swing voter rather than court groups with a dedicated voting pattern.
The clearest examples of this are the swing states in any given Presidential election. Not only do the candidates spend much more time in these given states, but the press coverage that follows these candidates and these swing states brings a much higher degree of focus on the issues that actually matter to these people. Conversely, the states that are predictable Democratic or Republican strongholds are of little consequence to either candidate or the media. The candidates know that it is a waste of time to spend time in these states. They know they have the votes in hand or know that there is no way for them to persuade these people to change their minds.
The younger demographic has fallen into this trap. None of the last four Presidential elections saw more young people identifying themselves as Republicans rather then Democrats. In 2008, 18-29 year-olds voted 66% to 32% for Barack Obama over John McCain, and in 2012 they voted for him 60% to 37% over Mitt Romney.
College students in particular are in danger of being perfectly predictable, and as a result, voters with marginal influence. Democrats simply assume younger people will vote for them (which is a reasonable assumption based on recent voting history). Democrats can promise the moon and the stars and not really have to deliver. Worse, the Democrats can expect this voting bloc to remain loyal even after the Democrats promote policies against youth’s own long-term economic interests. Consider as a prime example Obamacare, a program that relies heavily on mandating higher costs be paid by the “young invincibles.” There are also the matters of record federal and student debt and questionable long-term funding for social security and Medicare.
To attract the interest of both parties, a voting bloc should be independent. It’s time for college students, and young people in general, to prove to politicians that they are capable of moving outside of the herd mentality fostered by some of their more vocal peers and their liberal minded professors. With the Gubernatorial and Senate races in Minnesota this year, the time is ripe for students across the state to showcase their ability to be unpredictable voters, so that in 2014, candidates for President will have to actively court their vote.