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.