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Speer: Economic figures not good for Obama

October 19, 2012
Bill Speer - Editor/Publisher , The Alpena News

I've watched the three national debates thus far and frankly, as much as I like politics, I had a hard time staying interested in this week's affair.

While certainly there is an occasional new tidbet learned, for the most part the candidates are going over and over the same roads, with the same statistics we've already heard before.

I never listen to broadcast commercials, and neither should you. Every piece of junk mail that comes to my home is treated as such - junk - and gets automatically tossed into the garbage without even a glance. Why should I, or you, be influenced by Political Action Committees with deep pockets and particular agendas?

Each of us needs to research the candidates on our own, seek answers to the questions that most concern us and make our decisions based on fact, not emotion.

For me that issue is the economy. If you think you're better today than four years ago, vote for President Obama. If you feel instead that you've spun your wheels the past four years, only to dig yourself deeper into debt, then vote for Mitt Romney.

It's pretty simple as I see it.

Which is why I think President Obama should be concerned.

Four years ago the president credited a new voting bloc - first time young voters - as having a significant impact on the election results. And they did, supporting the president in large numbers. Millennials, as this generation is known, voted for Obama 66 percent to 32 percent over John McCain. Meanwhile, adults over 30 only supported the president 50-49 percent. According to the Pew Research Center, this was "the largest gap ever seen in a presidential election between the votes of those under and over age 30."

Today, many of those same voters find themselves among the statistical ranks both candidates have discussed at length in the debates - unemployed or underemployed high school and college graduates. And therein is the problem for the President.

Here are some statistics that should alarm the Obama re-election team.

According to Generational Opportunity, a 501(c)4 that is tracking millennial opinions this election through social media venues, here are more statistics regarding millennials.

In a recent poll, 89 percent in this age group said the economy was impacting their day-to-day lives and 84 percent the economy was delaying, or forcing them to reconsider making a major purchase.

OK, you might say, interesting statistics, but what's to say this group will vote in a couple of weeks. Fair enough.

That same poll revealed millennials have little confidence in the political system, with only 38 percent believing the political leaders of today have their interests at heart. Despite that, 76 percent said they will vote in the presidential election Nov. 6.

Like you, I have many emotional hot buttons regarding the presidential race - family values, abortion, health care and deficit reduction.

Ultimately, however, it all boils down to the economy. When President Obama was sworn into office, the average price of gas in the U.S. was $1.62 a gallon. Today gas prices locally average $3.70 a gallon. Forget soaring health care costs, insurance spikes and the increased price of food.

Imagine all the gallons of gas we've pumped over the last four years, and how much extra that has cost us.

Then, think about that impact on young people at their first jobs, or trying to find that first job, and how hard it has been to make ends meet. If the millennials show up at the polls in the same numbers as they did four years ago, I believe election results could be very different indeed.



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