This week, President Obama takes to the road with two goals. The main mission is to get Congress to veto a bill that would raise student loan interest rates and the secondary mission is reconnecting with voters in the 2012 battleground states of Colorado, Iowa and North Carolina. The voters of his focus being the 18-34 demographic, he’ll visit universities in each state to help attract the voters that carried a lot of his 2008 election.
The focus of this official trip is to get lawmakers to stop a bill from passing that will double interest rates on many popular student loans. The jump in rates is set to start this July, unless Congress acts against it. One of the rare issues both sides agree on, raised interest rates could make college impossible for some families and cause more financial struggle for those who have already graduated and are repaying. Though Republican nominee Mitt Romney has touted his belief that Obama’s failed leadership has caused a lot of our economic problems, he still supports temporarily extending the current interest rates on Stafford loans. Both parties believe that education is our way to a stronger economy.
If interest rates are raised, it could add as much as $1,000 a year for the life of these loans. With some people over a hundred thousand dollars in student loan debt, that $1,000 would add up quickly for anyone. Obama hopes to enact legislation that would keep the interest rates where they are, at 3.4%.
With this key demographic, recent surveys estimate Obama is dominating Romney with support from 60% of voters, compared to Romney’s 34%. Leading into Obama’s campaigning this week, the Romney camp has aimed its attacks at recent sex harassment scandals with members of the President’s team in hopes of gaining some more support. Though Romney may not need to fight as hard as he thinks considering another recent survey shows that Obama’s supporters in this age range have dropped almost twenty percentage points since 2008, falling from an enthusiastic 63% to a more conservative 45% today. Obama spokespersons have admitted that this demographic, while not completely lost, will require some extra attention from the President to earn their votes back.
With so much unemployment and underemployment for voters just graduating from college, these kinds of issues could make or break the candidates’ campaigns. Feeling largely forgotten while drowning in student loan debt, the many voters from 18-34 struggling financially speak to the larger issue of whom the government supports through legislation. Graduating college in such a poor economy gives many no hope of repaying their student loans off anytime soon. And with such low earning ability, many are face taking out short term, 12 month loans and other emergency loans just to cover their monthly bills.
Obama begins his two-day campaign trail at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, then goes onto the University of Colorado Boulder, and ends at the University of Iowa. Facing well over 350,000 students who will be affected by the raised interest rates, Obama has a lot to accomplish in a couple short days.