Youth voters continue to show support for Obama

By Janiece Peterson

Incumbent Barack Obama won the 2012 presidential election on Nov. 6, and much of his victory can be attributed to youth voter turnout.

According to a study conducted by the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement" (CIRCLE), "[An] updated data estimate is that 23 million youth voted in the 2012 election."

If it weren't for many of the youth voters this election season, Obama may not have won.

According to CIRCLE, "... if no one under the age of 30 had voted, the electoral votes of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Florida, and therefore the Electoral College, would have swung to Romney."

"It is not surprising that the youth vote played such a crucial role in Obama winning the election," said Meagan Downing of Chesapeake, Va., a junior broadcast journalism major from Hampton University. "During campaign season, Obama seemed to reach out to the youth more than Romney, and his health care and economic policies, as pertaining to college students, were extremely favorable among youth voters." Young voters from some universities throughout Virginia were happy to see that Obama won a second term. "After Obama won the election, students at Norfolk State University were relieved," said Hope Dawson, a senior nursing major from Norfolk State University. "Many of them spoke of how much [Obama] promised America, and how they couldn't wait for his policies to come to pass." However, there were students at other schools who felt differently.

"Things were a little tense after Obama's re-election. You could see the national division between voters on a local level," said Alivia Long, a junior theater major from The College of William & Mary in Williamsburg.

"After the election, a large number of students at Liberty University in Lynchburg felt like all hope for America was lost," said Dominique Myers, a junior pre-med major from Liberty University. "They felt that the basic Christian principles that our nation was founded on were being destroyed."

Whether individuals are for or against him, Obama's policies are still expected to take place.

"I think now that people have cooled off a little, they will be more willing to cooperate with Obama and focus on restoring the country," said Long.

Some students at Norfolk State look to the future with confidence. "I think the students are still inspired to see his policies continue," said Dawson.

However, with Obama back in the White House, some students are starting to take their mind off of the political spectrum.

"After Obama won, everyone was relieved, but no one is talking about politics anymore," said EvVarey Thompson, a senior computer engineering major from Virginia State University in Petersburg.

"So many times, Americans take interest in the general election and forget to participate or pay attention to issues in between presidential elections," said Ambur Smith, a sophomore political science major from Hampton University. However, with student loans and affordable health care being some of student's main concerns, there are some youth, who are continuing the fight to ensure that Obama's policies do not fail.

"Obama is going to have the same issues that he was struggling with before, because he has to get approval by Congress to get laws and policies passed," said Myers. "It is important for students to stay knowledgeable about what is going on in society."

In order to help Obama with possible setbacks that he may have to face, students can still take action with the Obama administration.

"We are making sure we keep students informed about what [Obama's] plans are, so they feel included in the [government]," said Bianca Brown, an Obama for America volunteer from Chicago.

Brown said that Obama cares about the youth and has their best interests at heart. "Obama loves the students, and we want to make sure he still has our support."

Students still have the opportunity to see to it that Obama's plans and policies remain available to American citizens by actively participating in political matters.

"Working on local campaigns of congressman who support the president might be another way to continue to take action," said Smith.

Whether it is participating in local campaigns or simply staying informed, these actions can continue to make a difference within the governmental policies and procedures. "Staying informed will help further the initiatives highlighted by the election," said Smith. "Those who really cared and worked for the cause are definitely still inspired."

The writer is a junior in the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications.

It’s hard out here for black Republicans

By Kendra Johnson

In the months leading to the 2012 presidential election, nothing seemed to be a higher form of treason in the black community than the announcement that one of its members would be voting for Republican candidate Mitt Romney.

Some individuals who announced their support of the GOP candidate received high levels of scorn and derision from their racial cohorts. Both rapper Nicki Minaj and actress Stacey Dash received a fair amount of backlash via social networks after they openly endorsed candidate Romney.

Minaj responded to her critics by saying her endorsement of the Republican candidate was a sarcastic remark that could be reduced to nothing more than a rant from one of the eccentric characters she says live inside her. Minaj's endorsement lost credibility when it was discovered that at the time of the announcement she was not a registered voter.

After racially charged criticism calling the bi-racial actress Dash a sellout to the black race, she defended herself by tweeting, "My humble opinion ... EVERYONE is entitled to one."

The tension that surrounded Minaj and Dash's announcements sparked a heated discussion. Should the black community continue to support President Barack Obama because of racial obligation, or should they support him because he is truly the better candidate?

In a Nov. 7 post on ABCnews.com, Susan Donaldson James wrote that black support of President Obama during this election cycle was less about claiming the "Promised Land" envisioned by civil rights leaders, as it was during the 2008 election, but more about making sure his plans for job growth, health care and education came to fruition.

The idea that to be Republican in the black community is taboo was present in many conversations about black voters, especially during the 2012 election cycle.

In an Oct. 12 article from the Star Tribune of Minneapolis, Jesse Washington of the Associated Press wrote about a special pride that exists among black people and how it determined their political decisions during the election. "Surviving slavery, segregation and discrimination has forged a special pride in African-Americans," Washington wrote.

"Now, some are saying this hard-earned pride has become prejudice in the form of blind loyalty to President Barack Obama."

Washington's article went on to suggest that blacks, in both the 2008 and 2012 elections, seemed to vote for Obama not out of political affiliation but because of the historical significance of his victory. Furthermore, he stated GOP candidate endorsements by members of the black community led to an internal pain shared by the rest of the black community--for some, to speak out against a symbol of black progression is an insult to the race.

Quentin Kidd, director of the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University, agreed with Washington's sentiments.

"There is a visceral pride in the African-American community about Obama," Kidd said during a phone interview. "I think that pride often manifests itself into a defensiveness and causes [black] people to push back against anyone who doesn't support Obama or his presidency."

Kidd said not wanting to feel snubbed from the black community might have led some people to be less vocal about their political affiliation.

Senior public relations major Alexis Glears said she often felt uncomfortable when she heard blacks, both prominent and not, discuss their support of candidate Romney.

"It's not like it's a crime to be a Republican," she said. "People can do what they want. It just seems weird to think of a black person being [Republican]. The Democratic Party just seems to be better suited for us."

Glears said the main source of her discomfort surrounding black Republicans is that they seem to disassociate themselves from their race.

"When I think of Republicans, I think of snobby, rich people," Glears said. "That's what being a Republican has come to be associated with. When I think of black Republicans, I think of rich black people who probably forgot they were black anyway. Being a Republican doesn't make the person a sell-out in their community; forgetting that they're a part of that community does."

Graduate student Ashley Pauling of Greenville, S.C. said in this election she could not understand why someone would vote for candidate Romney, but she thought people were more focused on their dislike of the candidate rather than the party.

"People seem to forget that once upon a time the Republican Party was the party black people favored," she said. In the 1960s the term "Rockefeller Republicans" emerged as a phrase used to describe moderates who favored New Deal Programs such as regulation and welfare. This group of people were strong supporters of civil rights and balanced budgets--ideologies that mirror those of the contemporary Democratic Party.

Pauling said she thinks black people view being a Republican as taboo because they lack true knowledge of each party's platform. She also said that she thinks a person's environment dictates their political affiliation.

During the election cycle, there was little talk about Republicans on campus and even less Republican propaganda was seen.

An HU political science professor, who preferred to speak anonymously, said he is a Republican but would not share his views around campus because he is sure he would incite a riot.

In addition, two Hampton students interviewed for this article initially stated they were Republican then vehemently denied the affiliation when told the article was for publication. Kidd said he thinks at a sociological level there is a certain subliminal influence from the black community that its members should support Obama.

"There is a degree of peer pressure more than anything present in the black community," Kidd said. "Not supporting Obama is seen as a sign of betrayal that, as we have seen [in the media], creates the idea of the in-group and the out-group and no one want to feel ostracized because of their beliefs."

The writer is a senior in the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications.

Home state advantages: HU students’ strategic voting

By Brian Sprowl

Many students at Hampton University took part in the Nov. 6 presidential election. They hit the polls strong throughout the day, casting their ballots for the candidate they deemed best fit to run the country the next four years.

While many non-Virginian residents at HU changed their state of registration to make their vote count in one of the most important swing states in the election, other students decided to cast votes in home states via absentee ballots. And for many students from these states, their votes mattered just as much away as it did in Virginia.

Before the elections, juniors Jared Smith and Kadeem Russell were interviewed about their reasoning behind voting absentee. Smith, who is aviation major from Cincinnati, said that "since Ohio is a battleground state, I decided to vote absentee because my vote would matter just as much there as it would here."

At that time, according to an article published by CNN.com on Oct. 31, the race for Ohio was neck and neck with President Barack Obama holding a slight lead. Obama went on to win Ohio and its 18 electoral votes by a slim margin, receiving just over 50 percent of the votes to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's 48 percent.

In terms of popular vote, Obama received a little over more than 100,000 more popular votes than Romney.

Russell, who is a chemical engineering major from Cape Coral, Fla., also voted absentee. His reasoning was slightly different than Smith's, but his vote was just as important. "I decided to vote absentee instead of changing my registration to Virginia because it was an easier process in my opinion," said Russell. "It was less paperwork since I was already registered in Florida."

Florida was the main state that had Hampton students on edge, being that it carried 29 electoral votes, the highest among the swing states up for grabs. Ultimately, Florida wasn't called until a few days after the election according to various news outlets such as CNN and Obama won without it being officially confirmed, but he did indeed win Florida narrowly, receiving 50 percent of the vote to Romney's 49 percent.

The election results brought about a collective sigh of relief from the student body at Hampton. Junior English major Trevor Parker from Fairless Hills, Pa., voted absentee and was pleased with the outcome.

"It's great that we got him [Obama] re-elected," said Parker. "He did a lot of good things in his first term with health care and helping college students. I think he will continue to help the American people, and make things fair for everyone." During the summer, Parker volunteered with an Obama campaign office in Pennsylvania. The Keystone State was another important state with 20 electoral votes up for grabs. Obama received 52 percent of the votes compared to Romney's nearly 47 percent.

Parker said that his reasoning for voting absentee was that he felt his vote would be just as helpful back home as it would be in Virginia, citing that Obama had won Virginia back in the 2008 election. But as First Lady Michelle Obama cited in her speech to Hampton students on Friday, Nov. 2, Virginia was an extremely close race in 08, as Obama won by about 235,000 votes.

This year, Virginia was once again a close race and for much of the night, Obama actually trailed Romney in Virginia. But as the night progressed, he made up ground and eventually ended up winning the swing state and its 13 electoral votes. This year, Obama won Virginia by a little more than 100,000 votes.

Former Hampton student Carl Bennett was in town during the election activities. Bennett, who recently moved to Yonkers, N.Y., was still registered to vote in Virginia and decided to stick with his current state of registration. He voted absentee just days before the election.

Bennett was happy about the re-election of the president, but he also has high standards for his second term.

"Romney didn't appeal to all the demographics, so it is his fault that he loss," said Bennett. "Overall, I am happy that Obama is getting four more years to fix the mess we are in, but he has got to make things happen. It's no time for just subtle reminders; it's time for him to actually make good on his slogan from four years ago."

Obama's slogan when he ran and won the presidency in 2008 was "Change." His slogan this year was While most students voted absentee to support their home states, most of which were swing states, junior English major Marcus Somerville actually wishes he switched his state of registration. Somerville, who is from Germantown, Md., voted absentee simply because he was going to be on campus on Election Day instead of home.

"I wish I would have registered in Virginia because of the greater opportunity to help him win in a historically red state instead of a blue state," said Somerville. "I didn't really recognize my mistake until afterwards."

Obama won Maryland relatively easy by receiving nearly 62 percent of the vote.

Somerville is still pleased that Obama was re-elected. "I am glad that he was re-elected. I don't really identify with any party lines, but I agree with Obama's political ideologies more so than his counterpart Romney."

The writer is a junior in the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications.

Michelle Obama’s words resonate with HU students

By Jalisa Stanislaus

On Nov. 2, four days before the presidential election, First Lady Michelle Obama stressed the importance of voting and the impact that a single vote could make to a crowd of more than 2,000 people in Hampton University's Holland Hall.

"Back in 2008, Barack won Virginia by about 235,000 votes," said Michelle Obama during the campaign stop. "That might sound like a lot but when you break that number down across precincts, that is just 100 votes per precinct. That was the margin of victory.

"Understand that a single vote in an apartment building or a college campus could make the difference," Michelle Obama said.

"After hearing my first lady speak on Friday, I understood how crucial my vote was," said senior psychology major Ronald Smith, as he waited in line to cast his vote at the Woodlands golf course in Hampton, Va.

"I'm out here freezing in line, but there's no way I'm leaving. Barack needs me."

On Election Day Nov 6., many HU students waited for up to four hours in 45-degree weather to cast their vote.

"I've been out here for over three hours, but I'm happy that I will have the opportunity to make a difference," said Adjoba Anoh, senior broadcast journalism major from Clinton, Md. "Not even this harsh weather can discourage me."

"Michelle Obama's speech about women's rights, education, and President Obama's character and leadership really gave me the extra push to get to the polls."

Virginia was a critical state for both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. Michelle Obama stated that the only guarantee in this election was that it would be closer than Barack Obama's victory in 2008.

In fact, his margin of victory was half of what he received in 2008.

"Mrs. Obama's words spoke to every person in attendance on Friday," said Rachel Burrell, senior kinesiology major from Hampton. "When she broke down how close the last election was, I realized that I could make a difference. I encouraged all of my family, friends and teammates to vote."

"It only takes one person to change the direction of this country. One student, one teammate, or one Hamptonian."

With 13 electoral votes up for grabs, Virginia was one of the key battleground states in the election. In 2008, Barack Obama was the first Democratic presidential candidate in 44 years to win Virginia. Obama turned Virginia from red to blue for a second time in 2012.

President Obama won Virginia by approximately 115,900 votes and a 3-percent margin in Virginia. He also won by approximately 3,476,775 popular votes and received 126 more electoral votes than Mitt Romney.

Hamptonians' voices were heard nationwide, as Obama received 72 percent of votes in the city of Hampton. His victory in Virginia had much to do with the campaigning done by his wife, Michelle, one of his greatest assets during election season.

In Obama's victory address in Chicago after his re-election he confessed to the world that without his wife, Michelle he would not be the man that he is today.

"Let me say this publicly: Michelle, I have never loved you more. I have never been prouder to watch the rest of America fall in love with you, too, as our nation's first lady." In 2008, Michelle Obama served as a sounding board for military families. According to an article from ABC News, "Michelle Obama on Her Passion to 'Make it Right' for Military Families," by Mary Bruce, Michelle Obama has made it her mission to support America's servicemen and women returning from a decade of conflict.

In April 2011, the first lady and Jill Biden, formed "Joining Forces," which connects servicemen and women with the resources they need to find jobs and brings attention to the unique needs and strengths of America's military. "Michelle Obama's focus on military families put her at the leading edge of the Democratic nominee campaign and helped to reclaim some of the military vote from Republicans," according to the article.

Since February 2010, Michelle Obama has focused on health and nutrition of the nation's youth through her Let's Move! campaign. The initiative is dedicated to solving the problem of obesity so that children will grow up healthier and be able to pursue their dreams, according to Letsmove.gov. Let's Move! concentrates on school food and getting supermarkets into inner cities, so that everyone has access to healthy and affordable food. Significant improvements have been made to improve the health of the nation's children since 2010. There has been progress in healthier food options for kids and greater opportunities for physical activities in schools and communities.

Barack Obama is now gearing up for his second term as President of the United States. According to Business Insider, Americans can look forward to a lower corporate tax rate, an end to deductions for outsourcing companies, investing in domestic energy sources, cutting taxes and many other new policies.

The writer is a senior in the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications.