Dems, GOP Look to Energize Young Voters

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WASHINGTON -- The 2012 presidential campaign is heating up and candidates are already staking their ground and targeting voters.

For President Barack Obama, that means a big push for the young voters who helped him win the White House in 2008.

However, that may not be as easy this time around.

Obama's victory in 2008 was indeed historic, powered in large part by a group known as the millenials, voters 30 and under.

"When you get people like Barack Obama, it starts getting a new generation of voters who never thought about politics before," said one young Democrat during the 2008 campaign.

Now three years later, the times, they are a changing. In 2008, Obama took 66 percent of the 30 and under crowd and they also voted overwhelming for Democrats -- 62 percent versus 30 percent for Republicans.

Now the gap has closed considerably. Those numbers are 52 to 39 percent in the Democrats favor, a swing of 19 points.

"We're still in war. We're still in a recession. There's actually people my age graduating and we don't have jobs," Hannah Friedman, a former Obama volunteer, said. "So I think as a result of that people aren't gung-ho about it or excited."

With 45 million millenials heading to the voting booth, their influence is considerable. They could account for one of every four votes in the 2012 election.

The bad news for President Obama is that the recession is hitting the 20-something crowd extremely hard.

While the national unemployment rate hovers around 9 percent, it's around 19 percent for those 18 to 24 and 10.5 percent for those 25 to 29.

The good news is that most of these voters still lean Democratic, so the president has a built in advantage.

Young Republican voters in Iowa and elsewhere know the challenge is a large one.

"I think people here at the straw poll should be worried about the people active because most of the youngsters are active in the Democratic side of politics," one young voter said.

But that's not the case for the Stoelting sisters from Iowa. These 20-something evangelical Christians are trying to mobilize the young Christian vote.

They've started the group, Unite The USA, to promote positive patriotism.

"As believers in Jesus Christ, we need to fight for Christian rights in, of course, biblical ways," Stacie Stoelting told CBN News.

The sisters are posting material online and giving advice to young voters so they can learn how to get active and be well informed.

"We encourage people to be involved in America. We encourage them to learn about our government, to be educated about our history and to take a step in the right direction to protect our rights and our freedom," Carrie Stoelting said.

You can count on President Obama's campaign to fight hard for the youth vote. He is already hitting the college circuit and cranking up his vast social media network.

The GOP will try to compete in that area too, while the Stoelting sisters will be plugging away making sure apathy doesn't rule the day.

"The Roman Empire fell with apathy as a key ingredient, and we have to be careful because apathy fells many a country," Stacie Stoelting said.

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David Brody is an Emmy Award-winning veteran news journalist who has interviewed many prominent national figures during his career of nearly 25 years. Currently, David covers the White House and interviews national newsmakers across the country.  Follow David on Twitter @TheBrodyFile and "like" him at Facebook.com/TheBrodyFile.