HIGH POINT, N.C. — Becoming old enough to vote is simply a matter of time. Becoming informed enough to vote intelligently, takes real effort. Monday night at High Point University, dozens of students – most of whom are voting in a presidential election for the first time – showed how vast their influence will be.
And at least the ones gathered to watch the debate on the campus of High Point University take their entry into the voting world, very seriously.
“I think it’s going to be higher numbers, this year with the youth vote, than we’ve ever seen before,” said Matt Jakubowski, a student at HPU.
While the students listened to the debate, representatives from Fox News and other outlets were ready to hear what they thought about the debate
“For people even in my generation, one thing you don’t know about them is the extent to which they’re going to get on social media and talk to their friends and their colleagues about the ideas they’re going to hear, tonight,” said Martin Kifer, a professor at HPU.
Students were sending their instant analysis of the debate on Facebook and Twitter. Although many of the new voters are still developing their political philosophy, some knew, coming in, where they stood. But Kellianne Davis is an example that there are hearts and minds to be won.
“In the mid-term elections, this past year, I went Republican,” said Davis. “I voted for Obama, in this race.”
The digital world makes it easy to up the volume on those you agree with, and turn it down on those you don’t.
“Sometimes, I find myself falling under that same spell. I mean, I follow our president, but I don’t follow any liberal pundits, or anything like that,” said Jakubowski.
Their professor believes, though, that these are among the most informed of their generation, so what they say on social media, is a crash course in political science.
“I think you’d be impressed with the substance,” said Kifer.
For the students, it’s not campaigning for one candidate or the other … it’s simply the life they’ve always known … and a generational shift in how ideas and thoughts are communicated.
“I guess, at the end of the day, what this means to us is history, for us, and making a difference saying at least we had some part,” said Kellianne.
The generation raised on the 140-character message is now becoming one of the largest generations America has ever produced and taking those ideas into the voting booth with them.
Now that the debates are over, President Obama and Governor Romney are likely to spend the next two weeks almost exclusively in Ohio, Virginia and Florid: the three biggest states that could still go to either candidate.