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A strong young voter turnout
(La Voz photo by Daryl Padilla)

By Esteban L. Hernandez

Incumbent President Barack Hussein Obama secured four more years of a Democratic presidency on Tuesday after defeating Republican challenger Mitt Romney, winning the electoral vote by 303-206.

Even before voters began dotting their selections in mail-in ballots and lined up to cast their vote on Election Day, the 2012 presidential election seemed destined to end up a close race.

Both parties tried mightily to sway members of a key voting bloc in Colorado: Latinos. Representing more than 12 percent of the Colorado electorate, the Latino vote seemed like a key piece of the Colorado puzzle. Obama had secured the Latino vote nationwide in the previous election, and some polls had him ahead of Romney by more than 30 percentage points.

Another group of sought-after voters were young voters, considered people under 30 years old. This voting bloc has historically voted Democrat, and polls showed that this election was bound to follow that trend.

A poll commissioned by the Youth Education Fund and the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning & Engagement (CIRCLE) gave Obama 52 to 35 percent advantage over Romney. Young voters in general appeared more likely to vote, with more than 54 percent of those polled saying they were “very” or “extremely” likely to vote.

In a news release, CIRCLE Director Peter Levine said that enthusiasm among youth voters was down from 2008.

“President Obama [had] a majority of likely young voters behind him, but a significant proportion [were] open to voting for Governor Romney, who [had] a clear opportunity to improve over John McCain’s record-low support in 2008.”

While Obama polled higher with Latino voters and young voters, in a so-called battleground state like Colorado that didn’t translate to a surefire vote from all members of either voting bloc.

Alex Johnson, 19, is a Colorado Springs native and a current University of Denver sophomore. He supported Romney, preferring his economic plan to Obama’s. He is looking forward to the presidential inauguration especially.

“To see a presidential inauguration is cool, but it’s so much cooler when you actually worked to make it happened,” he said. He calls himself a lifelong Republican despite his young age, having campaigned for McCain as a high school student.

“Having watched the debate, [there was] a remarkably different world view,” he said about the two candidates.

Young Latino voters supporting Romney were uncommon in Colorado, a reflection of the higher percentage of Latinos and young voters alike who favored Obama nationally.
Amanda Anaya, 25, of Lakewood was among those who voted for Obama. While she said her biggest reason for voting for Obama was because of his economic plan, education weighed heavily on her mind. She calls this election a nail-bitter.

“I know with him being elected, that the opportunity is still there,” Anaya said, citing Obama’s pledge to raise Pell Grant amounts and scaling back loan rates for college students. “I think that it’s slow progress and I am willing to give him another four years.”

Both Anaya and Johnson, despite their political affiliations, are genuinely excited — and genuinely passionate — for an opportunity to have voted and have their voices heard.

“I hope America does the right thing,” Anaya said.





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