/PRNewswire/ -- "The 2008 elections proved that teens and twenties can make a difference," say former Democratic National Youth Voter Registration Director, Robert Weiner and Policy Analyst Zoe Pagonis. "But whether this is a one-time phenomenon is an open question; the reality is that the non-Obama factor in the 2010 off-year elections is a wild card."
In an op-ed column in today's Des Moines Register, "Non-Obama Factor a Wild Card in 2010," Weiner, the Democratic Party's first youth voter registration director in 1971-72 after the 26th Amendment, and Pagonis contend, "In the 2008 election, many Democrats rode on Barack Obama's coattails to win the youth vote. A record 23 million young Americans swarmed polls, constituting the second highest percentage (52%) of eligible 17-29 year olds voting."
They add, "2010, like every other off-year election, will inevitably draw a smaller turnout, enabling youth to have an even bigger proportional impact. The 3% increase in the number of youths voting during the 2006 off-year compared to 2002 was significant in the Democrats' gain of 31 seats."
"Obama built his base around 17-29 year olds, meeting with high school student government leaders, speaking at colleges and choosing a hip-hop event sponsored by Usher over one by AARP."
"His personality and youthful habits (playing basketball) charmed young Americans Yet what won him the most was concentrating on issues important to young people. A poll conducted by the Center for Information on Civic Learning found that among young Obama voters, the top issues were the Iraq war, economy and health care."
Weiner and Pagonis say, "Thirty-nine election seats for Governor will be open in 2010 in addition to the 435 House seats and 36 Senate seats. Candidates can win the youth vote by concentrating on areas of interest to young people and by modeling their issues as well as campaign strategies after Obama."
Weiner and Pagonis conclude, "Pretending "I'm Obama," will only take a politician so far; it is going to have to be more, "I'm like Barack," and mean it."
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