Obama past and present: will students vote for him with the same enthusiasm as before?

Earlier this month President Obama kicked off his 2012 presidential reelection campaign by releasing a video on his website focusing on his grassroots supporters. The video featured American flags, rural and domestic settings, references to his former underdog status and teenagers who wanted to vote in the previous election but were underage. Obama’s image and voice are not present in the video, which ends by flashing sentence “It begins with us” flashing across the screen.

The question that will be answered between now and the elections is whether or not Obama will receive the same widespread support he did in 2008. During the last election, several students participated in a tutorial that helped promote voting and candidates by canvassing local residential areas. Students chose between working for candidates John McCain and Barack Obama. Third-year Nicholas Manting-Brewer was one student who participated in the tutorial sponsored by Dean of Students Wendy Bashant. Though there were times that Manting-Brewer received negative feedback, being cursed out or thrown off of lawns, he found the tutorial to be a good experience overall because it pushed students out into the community.

“I liked Obama a lot,” Manting-Brewer said. “I thought he was the right candidate … I think the big thing was his position on Guantanamo Bay and that he was going to shut it down. That was one of the first things he said when he won.” He also supported Obama because of his stance on enhanced interrogation and his social policy. “It came down to him being the lesser of two evils,” Brewer said. “Obviously he wasn’t the completely ideal pick but you had two options at the point and he was the better of the two.”

But now his support has dried up. According to Manting-Brewer, Obama’s term has not gone well and there are quite a few points of his campaign that he has not made good on. “There are things that are really disappointing about him,” Manting-Brewer continued. “I think he relationship with Wall Street is disappointing and it’s a real shame that most of the people who work under him as economic advisors, or did at one point, are the same people who helped get us into the financial mess we’re in.” However there are parts of Obama’s current term that Manting-Brewer does not take issue with such as his forgiving of some student loans.

At this point in time Manting-Brewer would probably not vote for Obama again unless the other main candidate was far-right and it was a tight race. “At this point I’m not crazy about him and definitely not working for him again,” Manting-Brewer explained. “I have to be practical to some degree. There’s no way that that man was going to do everything that he said he was going to do. It’s kind of naïve to expect that but I think that also tells me a lot about where I was at that time – that I was very naïve or had very unrealistic exceptions about what a guy going into power can do within our political system. … I don’t know if I’m every going to find someone who is an ideal candidate.”

Despite his personal doubts, Manting-Brewer forcasts that Obama will most likely receive widespread support from New College students in the next election. “Last time it was really enthusiastic and I’m not sure if that’s going to be the case this time. He has an interesting way of bringing out something in people and tapping in to electorates that normally don’t vote and I think that’s powerful and a great asset. I’m just not sure if those people will come back out for him. Regardless of whether I vote for him or not, I’m definitely going to follow this election closely.”

Information for this article courtesy of npr.org.

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