President Barack Obama and the first lady are scheduled to appear on the Oval to energize young voters Sunday, but some political experts doubt their efforts will swing next month’s elections.
“I don’t think he will be tremendously successful,” said Robert Kaufman, a public policy professor at Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif. “His numbers are bad — look at job numbers, debt and the U.S. is on the verge of a major tax increase.”
The U.S. unemployment rate was 9.6 percent in September, and the national debt has swelled to $44,082 per person, according to the most recent federal data.
With all of the negative attention Obama has been getting, it might be difficult for him to be an asset to Democratic candidates.
“He believes he still is an asset to the Democratic candidates, but with everyone’s anger toward health care and the economy, he isn’t really (an asset) anymore,” Kaufman said.
Still, Obama’s appeal to college-aged voters might help him gain support for Democrats in the upcoming election despite the state of the economy.
Ohio is a pivotal state in the Nov. 2 election, and Republican candidates are leading in polls for most major offices, including the Senate and Ohio governor. The state’s unemployment rate is 10.1 percent, another reason why the president wants to rally young people here, Kaufman said.
“A college campus is going to be a positive venue for him, and … his overall strategy is to minimize the Republican seats in the November elections,” he said.
It will benefit Obama’s agenda for the country if he helps Democrats get elected now, said Richard Gunther, a political science professor at Ohio State.
“The better Gov. (Ted) Strickland does, especially winning, means that Democratic congressional candidates can also do better,” said John White, professor of politics at Catholic University in Washington, D.C. “The Senate race appears lost, making Obama’s attempt to grow the electorate ever more crucial for the races in play.
“Voter turnout in a normal midterm election hovers between 35 and 40 percent. In 2008, turnout was 63 percent,” White said.
Obama wants to re-energize student voters because young people, ages 18 to 29, voted in his favor by 66 percent in 2008, analysts said.
However, young people typically have the lowest electoral turnout rates of any group, especially for mid-term elections, Gunther said.
“Among those most likely to vote (older voters and opposition party supporters), Republicans have a sizable advantage. The higher the level of turnout, the more Democratic candidates will benefit,” Gunther said.
Republicans and Tea Party supporters bring a strong energy to this year’s midterm election, White said.
Despite the “angry-voter” theme the media has been emphasizing recently, the legislative accomplishments of congress are impressive, according to historic standards, Gunther said.
“Among these (accomplishments) is a change in the law that will greatly benefit students,” Gunther said.
There is a new law that provides direct granting of loans to students without the private-sector middleman raking in major profits, Gunther said.
A provision in the health care bill also allows parents to claim dependents up to 26 years old under their insurance policies.
“If Obama can successfully remind students of these and other legislative accomplishments — many of which might be overturned if the Republicans secure a majority in both houses of Congress — he should succeed in getting many of them to turnout on Nov. 2,” Gunther said.
Obama “is awfully good at what he does,” Gunther said, “but it’s an uphill climb to Election Day.”
Becky King, Rachel Black and Mallory Treleaven contributed to this story.