President Obama, his immediate aides and his cabinet secretaries have used taxpayer dollars to woo young voters at more than 130 universities and schools between March 2011 and March 2012, according to a survey of news reports and press releases reviewed by The Daily Caller.
Obama won 66 percent of the youth vote in 2008, while Republican Sen. John McCain got only 32 percent. Since then, youth enthusiasm for Obama has declined, partly because of high unemployment: More than 50 percent of recent college graduates are unemployed or underemployed.
Less than 35 percent of the 18- to 29-year-old cohort say they’re likely to vote in 2012, according to an April 26 report by Gallup, which also showed Obama leading Romney in that age group by a 64-29 margin.
Roughly one-third of the visits were to swing states, including Virginia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Ohio, Colorado and Florida.
The number of swing-state visits was matched by visits to universities and schools in blue states, including California, New York, Maryland and Massachusetts. Still, many students in blue-state universities can vote in other states.
Obama personally visited 27 colleges and high schools while trying to boost support and enthusiasm among younger voters. He used Air Force One to visit three more universities this week, spurring charges that he’s using taxpayer-funded flights to subsidize his 2012 campaign.
The first lady, Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill visited another 26 education centers during the year. Top Obama aide Valerie Jarrett visited seven centers, and his cabinet secretaries flew or drove to 73 more.
Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan visited 27, while Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano visited 11. Kathleen Sebelius, who runs the Department of Health and Human Services, visited seven and Energy Secretary Steven Chu visited eight, according to press releases collected by Generation Opportunity, which is trying to boost political activity and turnout by younger Americans.
Some of the visits involved multiple officials. For example, Biden and Duncan have visited several schools to tout the administration’s funding plans to an audience of students and their parents.
Sub-cabinet officials, including the surgeon general and the NASA administrator, have visited at least another 73 education centers.
“What you have is very sophisticated effort [by the administration] to use every means possible and every appointed official possible,” Generation Opportunity president Paul Conway told The Daily Caller. However, he added, the group’s surveys show that “people will vote on their record in office, not their charisma.” Conway worked as an appointee in the Department of Labor during the previous administration.
The visits were all considered official visits, but they also helped the Obama administration reach out to a critical segment of their base.
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