Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Young Voters in 2010 Midterm Elections

After the 2008 U.S. presidential election, I wrote about the role of young voters in Barack Obama's win and cited expert opinion at the time on whether the present cohort of young voters would continue to turn out in future elections and whether they would remain as heavily inclined toward the Democratic party as they were in '08.

Leading into this upcoming November's midterm elections for the U.S. House and Senate, state governorships, and other offices, Republicans have been projected to make major gains. It's not so much that Democrat-leaning voters are being won over to Republican ideas; rather, polling seems to suggest an "enthusiasm gap" that may propel a greater share of GOP-leaning citizens into the voting booth than of Democratic supporters. However, the Democrats may be catching up in motivation, to some degree.

An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released earlier today, with the headline "Battle for Congress tightens between parties," suggests that certain segments of the traditional Democratic coalition are started to get more excited about voting -- but young adults are not among them.

The NBC/WSJ pollsters attribute the tightening to increased enthusiasm for the upcoming midterms by African Americans (who saw a six-point gain in high interest) and Hispanics (who saw an 11-point gain).

But young voters, who helped fuel Obama’s presidential victory in 2008, are now sitting on the sidelines. Just 35 percent of those ages 18-34 are enthusiastic about the election in November, versus 65 percent of seniors who say that.

In an apparent attempt to reinvigorate the youth vote, Obama spoke today at a large rally at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and apparently will appear on other campuses in the coming weeks (see here and here).

Monday, September 20, 2010

Texas Tech Grad Explores EA in Australia

Today in my Development in Young Adulthood course at Texas Tech University, we had a guest speaker from Australia via Skype. The speaker, Amanda, completed her undergraduate degree at Texas Tech in 2005 and had been in one of my classes back then. Just a few months ago, she fulfilled a long-term dream by moving to Australia. I thought -- and Amanda agreed -- that her desire to explore the world before settling down exemplified emerging adulthood, so she was a fitting guest to have in class. (She had to be available at 3:00 a.m. her time to fit my class time, for which I and the students are very appreciative.)

Amanda is blogging about her journey, which some readers may find of interest. She mentioned during her appearance in my class that as she approached the end of high school, she probably would have been the front-runner to be voted by the senior class as most likely to marry early and start a family. However, during college, a desire to explore that had been with her since childhood came to the fore and she decided traveling the world was for her in the immediate future. Hence, at that point she entered the realm of emerging adulthood.

I was pleased at the number of students in my class who asked questions and at the variety of questions. The students asked about everything from how it is arriving to a new culture, to work opportunities, to what the dating scene in Melbourne is like! One topic we pursued in some depth is concept of a hostel, a form of lodging for young travelers (and others) that some students in the class may not have been very familiar with.

Amanda's timeframe for the next two years or so is to travel to additional countries throughout the world and then work her way back to the U.S. At that point, she thinks, she will be ready to settle down and start a family. About half of her college friends, she estimates, married and started families early, whereas the other half, like her, are taking more time to move into these roles.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

EA and Youth Aimlessness and Indecisiveness in Classic Literature

I was quoted in this Toronto Star article about emerging adulthood that came out over the weekend. In addition to providing a basic introduction to EA for readers, the article probed how the theme of aimlessness and indecisiveness during the transition to adulthood has been a mainstay of classic literature, introduced long before social scientists wrote of EA and related concepts. I virtually never read fiction. However, one genre of literature has long fascinated me, the Beat Generation (or Beatniks). Thus, I was able to comment for the reporter on seeming parallels between EA and Beatnik authors. I would recommend Steven Watson's book, The Birth of the Beat Generation, as an historical account.