Four years ago, Colleen Weston was one of the many young Americans enchanted by Barack Obama’s message of hope and change.
Now the 28-year-old marketing director from Cleveland in the battleground state of Ohio says she has grown up and will this time vote for Republican candidate Mitt Romney.
“I am definitely disappointed in the job that has not been done,” Colleen explains.
As Obama’s hair has turned gray during his time in the Oval Office, recent surveys suggest his support among young people is slipping. Especially in swing states like Ohio, where the outcome of the election on Tuesday hangs on a knife-edge, a lack of enthusiasm among young voters could jeopardise the president’s re-election bid.
Youngsters who helped Obama conquer the White House have matured in an economy still suffering from the recession.
Research by Generation Opportunity, a non-partisan group working with Americans aged 18 to 29, shows the depth of pain among America’s youth. Eighty-nine percent of young people said the economy was having an impact in their daily lives, and many had cut the amount of money they spent on entertainment, vacations and groceries.
In 2008, Weston was a fresh college graduate who had just started her first job at the small manufacturing company. “My perspective on how things really work has changed in last four years,” she says.
In the last election, 66% of people under 30 voted for Obama over his Republican foe John McCain. A Harvard Institute of Politics poll showed that Obama has lost some ground among the 18-to-29-year-olds likeliest to vote, leading Romney with 55% to 36%.
Another worry for the Obama campaign is young voter turnout. According to Washington Post-ABC News polls in September and October, 67% of registered voters under 30 said they are absolutely certain they will vote. During the same period four years ago, that figure was 80%.