NPR logo Meet The Obama-Era Kids Who Are About To Be First-Time Voters

Meet The Obama-Era Kids Who Are About To Be First-Time Voters

Young people loved President Obama in 2008 — they turned out to support him more than any other recent Democratic presidential nominee.

Older millennials, ages 25-29, many of whom were first-time voters in 2008, seem to lean more left than younger millennials, who will cast their first vote in 2016. (Percentages are rounded and may add up to more than 100.)

Older millennials, ages 25-29, many of whom were first-time voters in 2008, seem to lean more left than younger millennials, who will cast their first vote in 2016. (Percentages are rounded and may add up to more than 100.) Harvard Institute of Politics hide caption

toggle caption Harvard Institute of Politics

But now, there's a new crop of young voters — the kids who came of age during the Obama presidency. They're are all grown up, and getting their first chance to vote for president.

They grew up in a different era — after Sept. 11 attacks and in the middle of the recession.

There's some indication that younger millennial voters are not as left-leaning as their big brothers and sisters. However, more still identify as Democrat than Republican, and a lot can change before they cast their first vote for president in 2016.

We asked first-time voters to share their earliest political memories, and we heard about praying for George W. Bush, family members losing jobs, fears of terrorism and the Daily Show. Here's what they had to say:

What Was Your Earliest Political Memory?

We met first-time voters at the University of New Hampshire and at Harvard's Institute of Politics National Campaign conference, which brought in college students from across the country.

  • Justin Miller, 20, Nottingham, N.H.

    Miller wouldn't say whether he's a Republican or a Democrat, but said he identifies with whoever he thinks "Jesus would vote for if he were still walking the earth, and that's something I kind of see in [Ben] Carson."

    Miller wouldn't say whether he's a Republican or a Democrat, but said he identifies with whoever he thinks "Jesus would vote for if he were still walking the earth, and that's something I kind of see in [Ben] Carson." Asma Khalid/NPR hide caption

    toggle caption Asma Khalid/NPR

    Student at University of New Hampshire

    "Every night my dad would gather us up. I was probably 8. And we would actually pray for George Bush, that God would just give him clarity to make the right decisions and stuff like that, 'cause I've always believed that prayer has a lot of power to it. So that probably would be my first political, just, like, realizing what a president is. He has a lot of power. Like, that's the reason why I'm praying for him."

    "We would actually pray for George Bush"
    • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/446006485/446012136" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Shannon Pierce, 21, Cleveland

    Anna Del Castillo (from left), Shannon Pierce and Phillip David Ellison. Pierce identifies as independent and is deeply concerned about mass incarceration. She doesn't love any of the candidates, but, at this point, she said she would probably go with Hillary Clinton.

    Anna Del Castillo (from left), Shannon Pierce and Phillip David Ellison. Pierce identifies as independent and is deeply concerned about mass incarceration. She doesn't love any of the candidates, but, at this point, she said she would probably go with Hillary Clinton. Asma Khalid/NPR hide caption

    toggle caption Asma Khalid/NPR

    Student at Tennessee State University

    "Obama won his second term when I was a freshman at Tennessee State University. And people were excited. And people loved Obama. But why? They liked Obama simply because he looked like us. And that is unacceptable. Because he literally could have had any viewpoint and they would have loved it. So when I realized how politically illiterate my campus was, that was an issue. We can't have that. So that's when I began to care."

    "People liked Obama, but why?"
    • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/446006485/446106959" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Stephen Miller, 19, Boston

    Miller is a Republican who says the economy is one of his major concerns because he wants to graduate into a "thriving, booming economy, so I can easily get a job and get my foot in the door."

    Miller is a Republican who says the economy is one of his major concerns because he wants to graduate into a "thriving, booming economy, so I can easily get a job and get my foot in the door." Asma Khalid/NPR hide caption

    toggle caption Asma Khalid/NPR

    Student at UNH

    "The economic crisis — '08, '09 — I was 12 years old, and my uncle actually lost his job because he worked for a private student loan firm in Boston, and there were new regulations passed in Congress that made that industry almost impossible to really operate and be profitable in, so they cut like 90 percent of their employees and he just happened to be one of them."

    "My uncle actually lost his job..."
    • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/446006485/446013973" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Abby Pokraka, 19, Falmouth, Mass.

    Pokraka grew up in a Republican family and identifies with the GOP, but said she's intrigued by Hillary Clinton because "she dealt with her husband's presidency and everything that happened with that and she still held her head high." i

    Pokraka grew up in a Republican family and identifies with the GOP, but said she's intrigued by Hillary Clinton because "she dealt with her husband's presidency and everything that happened with that and she still held her head high." Asma Khalid/NPR hide caption

    toggle caption Asma Khalid/NPR
    Pokraka grew up in a Republican family and identifies with the GOP, but said she's intrigued by Hillary Clinton because "she dealt with her husband's presidency and everything that happened with that and she still held her head high."

    Pokraka grew up in a Republican family and identifies with the GOP, but said she's intrigued by Hillary Clinton because "she dealt with her husband's presidency and everything that happened with that and she still held her head high."

    Asma Khalid/NPR

    Student at UNH

    "The 9/11 attacks and, like, George W. Bush trying to, like, console the American public and trying to, you know, be like a father figure almost and just tell everyone that it's going to be OK, and everything like that. And he also just, like, went right into Afghanistan to take out the terrorists and, like, assure the American public that, like, we were OK and that precautions would be taken to, like, secure the nation."

    "The 9/11 attacks..."
    • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/446006485/446081363" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Anna Del Castillo, 19, Ocean Springs, Miss.

    Del Castillo supports the Black Lives Matter movement and said immigration reform is an important issue to her. She said she likes Hillary Clinton but is a "big supporter" of Bernie Sanders because of his "inclusive policies."

    Del Castillo supports the Black Lives Matter movement and said immigration reform is an important issue to her. She said she likes Hillary Clinton but is a "big supporter" of Bernie Sanders because of his "inclusive policies." Asma Khalid/NPR hide caption

    toggle caption Asma Khalid/NPR

    Student at Tufts University

    "I grew up in south Mississippi, with different views from a lot of my classmates. And for me, it wasn't just presidential elections, but local politics. The people who were coming into office, who were posting things on Facebook about their platform that were very much anti-immigrant, very much anti-LGBTQ rights and things like that, and for me that wasn't OK and I wanted to have a voice. Even if I was representing a small portion of my community, I still wanted my voice to be heard."

    "I grew up ... with different views"
    • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/446006485/446107342" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Halie Vilagi, 20, Amherst, Ohio

    Vilagi identifies as a Republican because of the economy. In 2008, she said, she skipped school to watch President Obama's inauguration because "I was so excited about him being elected." But after eight years, she said, she's shifted to the right because she's "disenchanted" with some of the Democratic policies and the "lack of change that's been made."

    Vilagi identifies as a Republican because of the economy. In 2008, she said, she skipped school to watch President Obama's inauguration because "I was so excited about him being elected." But after eight years, she said, she's shifted to the right because she's "disenchanted" with some of the Democratic policies and the "lack of change that's been made." Asma Khalid/NPR hide caption

    toggle caption Asma Khalid/NPR

    Student at Ohio State University

    "Well, I grew up watching The Colbert Report and Jon Stewart, and that's kind of how I made my introduction to politics at a very young age."

    "I grew up watching the Colbert Report"
    • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/446006485/446108103" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

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