Young African-Americans Support President Obama, but Turnout Not a Guarantee

Enter Hollywood

The Obama re-election campaign is calling on Hollywood, perhaps more than ever. Raising money may be one thing Hollywood does well, but the clock is ticking down, and it's not all about the big bucks.

"Celebrities are the new force in American politics," said Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League. "They have a platform and they have a voice. I see more and more celebrities wanting to use that voice for civic and political purposes."

Including Eva Longoria, Kerry Washington and Scarlett Johansson, the president had a host of celebrities speaking out on his behalf at the Democratic National Convention.

In recent months, he has attended fundraisers hosted by the likes of George Clooney, Anna Wintour and, this past week, Beyonce and Jay-Z.

But what is won from one night with the 1 percent? Having the first-couple of hip-hop spending time with the president "sends a message to young people," said Morial.

Kareem Campbell doesn't believe that celebrity hip-hop endorsements have any bearing on his voting. As he sees it, "some music celebrities can definitely have a positive impact on the young African-American community." They are "making it cool again to vote."

But is "cool" going to make the cut?

The Alternative

In 2012, the economy is a focus for many voters, something the Romney campaign and Republicans welcome with open arms.

"We're not buying what you're selling in 2012," declared Saratoga Springs, Utah, Mayor Mia Love, when she took to the podium at last month's Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla. The rising star, who may well become the first African-American Republican woman to serve in the House if she wins her race November, spoke for only a few minutes but caught the attention of millions.

While the Romney campaign may not be actively seeking the African-American youth vote, they're not just sitting back and hoping that the demographic will stay away on Election Day. In June, the Romney campaign launched Young Americans for Romney in an attempt to reach out to the millennial generation. Led by Craig Romney, the youngest of Romney's sons, the effort has been largely centered on economic challenges.

'This Is Not 2008'

Victoria Wanjiku, a Kenyan immigrant who grew up in Atlanta, sees this election from a different perspective. Although unable to vote herself, the Georgetown University senior calls America home.

"People are still excited about an Obama presidency," she said. "From what I'm reading and experiencing and seeing from my friends on Facebook, I think they'll vote."

As she saw it, enthusiasm among African-American youth is still there, but it's the media narrative that has changed.

Put simply, "This is a not the same election as it was in 2008. At that time, the story was about the first African-American president of the United States."

Nonetheless, there is mounting evidence that the Obama campaign is beginning to pull ahead in some key swing states. A recent Washington Post poll showed Obama up by 8 points in Virginia.

Marc Morial sees a "growing interest" in the election and a "growing sense of how important it is," but he was quick to admit, "This is not 2008."

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