President Barack Obama’s campaign is more focused on higher education than Mitt Romney’s, according to a study by the Wesleyan Media Project released last week. Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) political science majors and faculty discussed the implications of these campaign strategies on the younger vote, and weighed in on the role of higher education campaign ads in this election.
According to Michael Stratford’s article in The Chronicle of Higher Education, titled “College Issues Loom Larger in Candidates’ Campaign Ads,” education is mentioned in 18.5 percent of Obama’s campaign ads in this election, while it is mentioned in less than one percent of Romney’s ads.
Fordham students mostly said that both campaigns should focus more on the issues of higher education and pursue the student vote.
York Campos, FCLC ’13, said he believes the candidates should be targeting not only college students, but also parents of future college students as well. “I think these campaigns and the higher education ads have an impact mostly on parents with kids that are not in college yet. And I think Obama has the advantage,” Campos said.
Campos discussed the quality of education in the United States, saying, “Economic experts are arguing that people are doing badly because of poor education. It is definitely important to get the votes of the people who are negatively impacted by the unequal quality of education across the country.”
Steven Saco, FCLC ’16, said he thinks the economy is the priority in this election. “Students are starting to vote now that tuition is going up, but the main concern this year is the economy and it’s the problem at the moment,” Saco said.
Regarding the candidates’ campaign strategies, Saco said, “I think Romney is out for the bigger companies and the higher class and it will be a downside for him because the middle class is a much greater percentage of the population.”
In the article, Stratford differentiates the two candidates’ angles toward the issue, stating that Obama’s focus regarding college students has been on providing federal aid, while Romney’s focus has been on the recession and excessive spending during the incumbent’s term. Stratford said, “Record-high levels of student debt and college costs that continue to rise have provided the Republican with an opening to discuss higher education within the context of debt and excessive spending.”
Thomas DeLuca, professor of political science at FCLC, said that focusing on education means spending money. According to DeLuca, while Obama seems to be more willing to spend money on education and job creation, Romney is focused on explaining how to cut taxes. DeLuca said that at the same time Romney does not want to seem opposed to hiring people.
Some FCLC students said they believe higher education should be more stressed in the campaigns because the candidates need to reach out to the younger crowd.
Mike Macalintal, FCLC ’15, said the campaigns are not focusing enough on the young population, and as a result the young are not participating as much as they should be. “I just talked to a few students here who aren’t even registered. You’ve got to appeal to the youth of America,” Macalintal said.
“How do you appeal to people?” DeLuca said rhetorically. “You tell them you’re going to help them compete in the market environment. What’s the tool? Education,” DeLuca said. “They’re not offering to redistribute wealth and power, but to help people compete, and education is the primary tool.”