Economy top issue among first-time voters

18-y­ear-old voters concerned about jobs, college loans

SAN ANTONIO - When Jacob McMillen was born, Bill Clinton was president. Unemployment was about 6 percent.

Now, as an 18-year-old, he's about to cast his first-ever vote in an election, and the job prospects are his top concern.

"Only 50 percent of graduates currently are receiving jobs, and so that scares me," he said.

The economy is the issue fellow first-time voters echoed when talking about what political subjects resonate most.

And while nearly all were concerned about jobs in particular, they were worried about something in their more immediate futures: college costs.

"College is getting increasingly harder to get into (and) pay for, especially with the economy the way it is," said Andrew Labrador, 18. "So rates on student loans is a big deal for me."

Medicare and Social Security may not be hot topics these young adults are texting and tweeting about, but they are issue they will inherit down the road.

In addition to the economy, Steven Bannwolf, 18, said foreign relations is a critical election issue.

"I think our allies should be a little bit more valued," he said.

For Ana Lopez, who will soon be 18, social issues -- including marriage equality -- were high on her litmus test.

How the 18-to-24-year-old demographic votes matters. Sixty-six percent voted for President Obama in 2008, helping to propel him to victory.

While the youth effect this election has yet to be seen, both parties are courting it.

Regardless of political leanings, many first-time voters are eager to have their voices heard.

Matt Stahl registered to vote just two days ago.

"It was a big moment for me," he said. "I'd real excited."

For a list of recent stories Marilyn Moritz has done, click here.


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