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Teens and Politics - Summay Report

Teens and Politics - StageofLife.com reportTeens Talk Politics and Share "Passion Issues" on Romney verses Obama

This is the summary report from the StageofLife.com Teens and Politics national writing prompt and blogging contest. 

  • 4,761 teens and college students visited the Stage of Life student writing contest page during the month's writing prompt (September 2012) from all 50 US states
  • 140 students nationwide fully answered the political survey (results below)
  • 75 student bloggers submitted a qualifying political essay about their political passion issue (essay links below), with many voicing their personal preferences for either Governor Romney or President Obama.

The idea for this month's national teen writing prompt and contest comes directly from the heated 2012 Presidential Election.  With the election coming up in November, we asked teens and college students to share a personal essay on the current state of the union, and in particular, what one issue is the most important policy topic for them as they consider a Presidential candidate.

We referred to this important policy topic as their "passion issue."

While many political issues are complex and incite debate, we know there's often a personal story or experience behind the one or two key issues that become the "passion issues" for each of us.  It's this "passion issue" that often makes people vote the way they do, even if they find themselves between parties on other policy matters.  Because many of our beliefs and values stem from those closest to us, it's no surprise that family dynamics play a big role in shaping these "passion issues."

Teens and Politics survey and essay results

The coming election will be extremely important to teens and college students as they consider college expenses, jobs, health care, and the social, economic and cultural trends of the future.  We wanted to know how teens envisioned the future of their county and asked them to write and submit an essay (500 words or less) about their political "passion issue," how family dynamics have (or have not) played into the issue, and finally, in the last sentence of the essay, to state which Presidential candidate is best suited to make a positive difference (or improvement) on the lives of teens and college students in the future as it relates to this passion issue.


These are the results of this national Stage of Life Teens and Politics writing prompt.
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PART I - TEENS & POLITICS SURVEY RESULTS

Before submitting their essay, teens were asked to complete a short survey about their political attitudes...

Interesting teen statistics from Stage of Life student political survey include (see all stats in PDF download)...

  • Stage of Life Teens and Politics Survey Results55% of students will (or would) vote for President Obama (verses 23.6% for Governor Romney).
  • 1 out of 3 students did not realize there are other candidates other than Obama and Romney running for President, i.e. Libertarian candidate, Green Party candidate, etc.
  • 70% of teens indicated their parents talk freely about politics at home and 64% of those students discuss politics with their parents.
  • 40% of teens either "completely agree" or "agree on the major political issues" with their parents.  Compare that to less than 7% of teens who say they do not agree with their parents politically ("at all" or "on major issues").
  • 14% of students have no idea of their parents' political viewpoints. 
  • 32% of teens have had an argument about politics or a political issue with their parents.  When asked about the specific topic of the political argument with their parents, the top three topics were gay marriage, abortion, and health care.  Dozens of other issue topics were indicated as the root of the arguments (available in the full report - see PDF).
  • Nearly 50% of all teens said that one (or both) of their parents took them to the local polling center, when they were little, to experience the voting process when their parents went to vote.  8% of the students shared that their parents do not vote.
  • When asked which forms of media the family uses to get its political news, the top five responses (out of 13 choices) were...
    1. Network TV (NBC, ABC, CBS) = 79% of families
    2. Internet News Sites (Huffington Post, DrudgeReport.com, etc.) = 46%
    3. Local Newspaper = 43%
    4. National Newspaper (NY Times, Wall Street Journal, etc.) = 38%
    5. Conservative Cable TV (Fox News, etc.) = 37%
  • The majority of students (53%) feel they have a political voice in this country.
PRINT PDF results of the Teens and Politics survey data

Presidential Election - Stage of LIfe essaysPART II - TEENS & POLITICS ESSAY THEMES

After taking the survey, students submitted their political essay to the StageofLife.com writing contest.  From the 75 qualifying teen essay submissions, several themes and trends emerged about how students feel about politics:

  • 1. Education: The general consensus among teens is that President Obama will do a better job at improving education in America. This means making higher education more affordable and making loan payments more reasonable. These teens feel Obama will make education a more realistic dream come true.
  • 2. Economy/Job Growth: Governor Romney was a strong contender in both Economy and Job Growth issues. Although many teens conceded that President Obama has tried to fix the economy, these teens are concerned about high tax rates, staggering unemployment rates, and the possibility of not having a job when they graduate college. And for them, Romney is the businessman for the job.
  • 3. Immigration: Immigration and race issues were very important to these teens—especially the children and family members of immigrants, and immigrant teens themselves. These issues saw the most nominations for third-party candidates like Jill Stein and Gary Johnson, who promise to give more rights to immigrants and their families: rights like voting and access to healthcare, which many immigrants do not have.
  • 4.  Wide Range of Issues:  There were roughly 13 categories of "Passion Issues" shared by the student bloggers - see below.

PART III - READ THE POLITICAL "PASSION ISSUE" ESSAYS

Immediately below, you'll find links to the StageofLife.com winning essay, our runners-up, semi-finalists and scores of other essays from college students and teenagers about politics and their "Passion Issue".  Please take a few moments to read an essay or two. If you have the time, make a comment on the responses you enjoyed the most.  We know the student writers will love hearing your positive input (they'll get an email notifying them if you comment on their writing contest entry).

Stage of Life writing contest winnerEssay Contest Winners:

Ten Runners-Up (in no particular order):
  1. My Passion Issue: One with a Bright Past Can Create a Bright Future by lauren.nordstrom (Romney plans to help the economy)
  2. My Passion Issue: Equal Respect for All by sjluvsu (Racism is still alive and well today—as indicated by what this teen witnessed in an airport)
  3. My Passion Issue: The Right to Love by Writer Selbe (Obama cares for the oppressed)
  4. My Passion Issue: Wise Cracks of Elephants and Donkeys by Joel.Metzger (Romney will create a stronger economy)
  5. My Passion Issue: I want my kids to grow up in a world where being gay isn’t considered “bad” or “immoral” by oceaneyes (The more that we limit GLBT rights, the more people will justify hate crimes)
  6. My Passion Issue: Will there be jobs for me when I graduate? by mpaltan (Work hard and you will be rewarded)
  7. My Passion Issue: Abortion can be the best option for the child, but hardly anyone realizes that by maddierose98 (If abortion became illegal, women would die seeking them)
  8. My Passion Issue: Acceptance Over Ignorance by jeromebostwick (Obama understands the needs of others even though he is neither gay nor a woman)
  9. My Passion Issue: Why are American children fat? by nmschreibsss (The Obamas are fighting childhood obesity)
  10. My Passion Issue: Healthcare by abhatla (Obama makes healthcare affordable)
Semi-Finalists (in no particular order):
  1. My Passion Issue: Affordable Healthcare: What being pro-life actually looks like by lizzy_wimberly (No American should go bankrupt because they can’t afford necessary healthcare)
  2. My Passion Issue: I love Israel, America should too by Judd12 (Romney will protect and support Israel)
  3. My Passion Issue: Romney for President by emily.johnson (Obama’s plan hasn’t worked so we need a change)
  4. My Passion Issue: The Art of Education by nemanjalilic (Romney will improve education)
  5. My Passion Issue: Knowledge is Power by melissa.duffy (Obama will leads teens into a more educated future)
  6. My Passion Issue: Reforming Immigration Policy to Provide Immigrants with a Political Voice by parkman2626 (Immigrants should have the right to vote)
  7. My Passion Issue: America by morningglory217 (Obama doesn’t see foreigners as lazy)
  8. My Passion Issue: Immigrants aren’t Criminals by emelin (“It is sad that some Americans don’t want [immigrants] here”)
  9. My Passion Issue: Can’t it be changed? by Dainkim (Even though he is a legal immigrant, he doesn’t have healthcare)
  10. My Passion Issue: National Security by broadwaybethany (Romney won’t let our country be attacked again)


All Qualifying Teen Political Essays

The political "Passion Issue" essays written by Stage of Life teen writers (grouped by theme):

Gay Rights/Marriage

  1. My Passion Issue: The Right to Love by Writer Selbe (Obama cares for the oppressed)

  2. My Passion Issue: Marriage by sam.griffin.5811 (Wouldn’t you be offended if someone objected to your marriage?)

  3. My Passion Issue: I want my kids to grow up in a world where being gay isn’t considered “bad” or “immoral” by oceaneyes (The more that we limit GLBT rights, the more people will justify hate crimes)

  4. My Passion Issue: The Perspectives of a College Student by LamarMiyazaki (Obama promises to legalize gay marriage)

  5. My Passion Issue: Does One Vote Really Matter? by helen.wagner (This teen remembers “voting” in elementary school)

  6. My Passion Issue: Support for a Prosperous America by rosieq (This teen supports social justice)

Pro-Choice/Women’s Rights

  1. My Passion Issue: Abortion can be the best option for the child, but hardly anyone realizes that by maddierose98 (If abortion became illegal, women would die seeking them)

  2. My Passion Issue: Acceptance Over Ignorance by jeromebostwick (Obama understands the needs of others even though he is neither gay nor a woman)

  3. My Passion Issue: Looking to the Future by diana.ropel (A woman has the right to choose)

  4. My Passion Issue: Obama for the Youth by NGuirgis (Obama is concerned about a woman’s health and wellbeing)


Pro-Life

  1. My Passion Issue: The Right to Life & Human Dignity by IloveAmerica (All human life should be treated with respect)

  2. My Passion Issue: Republican Values by ChristinaHarman (Romney is pro-life)


Education

  1. My Passion Issue: My future will be brighter with a completed education and a job by krmurphy91 (Obama will make higher education more affordable)

  2. My Passion Issue: Grateful for Homework? The Issue of Education in the 2012 Presidential Election by telltheworld (Obama plans to expand educational opportunities, while Romney plans to cut education)

  3. My Passion Issue: Keep Barack on Top by samanthapouchak (Affordable education and reduced taxes for the middle class will help this teen’s family)

  4. My Passion Issue: The Art of Education by nemanjalilic (Romney will improve education)

  5. My Passion Issue: One vs. All by mdwise23 (“We’re in this together”)

  6. My Passion Issue: How Am I Going to Afford College? by Dylan.Edwards (Obama better understands the average American)

  7. My Passion Issue: A Promising Future for American Students by ryanneaj (Obama plans to make education more affordable)

  8. My Passion Issue: Benefitting as a College Student by kaitlynn.flynn (Obama’s decisions about financial aid will definitely affect her)

  9. My Passion Issue: Obama for President by taylormichelle (Obama has made paying back loans more bearable)

  10. My Passion Issue: Knowledge is Power by melissa.duffy (Obama will leads teens into a more educated future)

  11. My Passion Issue: The Transforming Generation by emiliameo (Obama cares about the middle class and about students)

  12. My Passion Issue: Obama and the Issues by miarms (Both Obama and this teen care about education and gay rights)

  13. My Passion Issue: Non-influenced by justin.bronson (Obama needed to spend money to help the economy)

  14. My Passion Issue: I’m growing up in a world that I can’t choose by elizabeth.weinman.7 (She doesn’t feel like she has a voice on many issues)


Contraception

  1. My Passion Issue: Contraception—Is More a Good Thing? by andrewneal (Sex is too important in today’s society)


Racism

  1. My Passion Issue: Equal Respect for All by sjluvsu (Racism is still alive and well today—as indicated by what this teen witnessed in an airport)

  2. My Passion Issue: Do our opinions matter? by BStinson (Vote for a person who listens to the oppressed)


Immigration

  1. My Passion Issue: Reforming Immigration Policy to Provide Immigrants with a Political Voice by parkman2626 (Immigrants should have the right to vote)

  2. My Passion Issue: America by morningglory217 (Obama doesn’t see foreigners as lazy)

  3. My Passion Issue: A story of immigrants by clerasilul (Jill Stein would make the best president)

  4. My Passion Issue: Immigration Amnesty by rahilsaha (Obama lets immigrants families stay in the US as long as they have kids)

  5. My Passion Issue: Immigrants’ Voices by alex (Immigrants come to America with a lot of dreams that cannot be fulfilled because of strict laws)

  6. My Passion Issue: Immigrants aren’t Criminals by emelin (“It is sad that some Americans don’t want [immigrants] here”)

  7. My Passion Issue: Undocumented Immigrants by gustavo rangel (Gary Johnson will help immigrants)

  8. My Passion Issue: More Immigrants = A Better Economy by youzach (Gary Johnson will grant citizenship to all immigrants)

  9. My Passion Issue: Immigration by Juan D’ Rangel (Jill Stein would do more for immigrants)

  10. My Passion Issue: No more crying mother by graciela pedroza (Jill Stein won’t let families be separated)

  11. My Passion Issue: Can’t it be changed? by Dainkim (Even though he is a legal immigrant, he doesn’t have healthcare)

  12. My Passion Issue: Families United by janettpity1 (Her family is separated because her siblings don’t have the papers to come to America)


Economy

  1. My Passion Issue: Obama’s Presidential Policies by fahad (Obama is restoring the economy)

  2. My Passion Issue: PrObama by nikoalvarez (Obama has many plans for his second term)

  3. My Passion Issue: National Debt, Unemployment, and Education by hogusbogus (Romney plans to do a lot of unnecessary spending)

  4. My Passion Issue: Current State of America’s Economy by x3ambernicolex3 (Republican voices are hard to hear)

  5. My Passion Issue: People believe way too much propaganda and fancy phrasing by libertarian1 (This teen enjoyed the RNC)

  6. My Passion Issue: One with a Bright Past Can Create a Bright Future by lauren.nordstrom (Romney plans to help the economy)

  7. My Passion Issue: America’s Voice by kentishs (“Yes we can!”)

  8. My Passion Issue: America’s Apathy towards Politics by haleynelson (This teen made herself get informed)

  9. My Passion Issue: Wise Cracks of Elephants and Donkeys by Joel.Metzger (Romney will create a stronger economy)

  10. My Passion Issue: Sticking up for the middle class by BreandanC (This teen believes his life will be better if Obama gets reelected)

  11. My Passion Issue: The Backbone of America by steveng5h513 (Obama supports social and economic prosperity)

  12. My Passion Issue: You Can’t Spell Romney without Money by cnor04 (Romney is a successful businessman)

  13. My Passion Issue: The Safety of My Country by Jessica (Obama is a strong candidate because of his determination)

  14. My Passion Issue: My Passion in Politics is Barack Obama by Daisinha (Obama worked hard and wants to reward other hard workers)

  15. My Passion Issue: A Taxing Workday by KMasters (Romney will reduce taxes)


Job Growth

  1. My Passion Issue: Job Growth in America by tjwacholtz (Romney will create more jobs)

  2. My Passion Issue: The Four-Year Wait by bradley.deiuliis (Obama created 4.2 million new jobs in 26 months)

  3. My Passion Issue: Romney for President by emily.johnson (Obama’s plan hasn’t worked so we need a change)

  4. My Passion Issue: Will there be jobs for me when I graduate? by mpaltan (Work hard and you will be rewarded)

  5. My Passion Issue: Opening Opportunities for Americans by clara.wong (Obama inherited a bad economy)

  6. My Passion Issue: My Country’s Future by bsmyth (This teen is concerned with the current job growth)

  7. My Passion Issue: America is Capable by rachel.clair (Romney has a decent track record of job creation)

  8. My Passion Issue: Interview Frustration by BTurner (She is having trouble finding a job)


Health/Healthcare

  1. My Passion Issue: Plausible Presidency Proposition by sgdaniels11 (Romney plans to repeal the Affordable Healthcare Act)

  2. My Passion Issue: Why are American children fat? by nmschreibsss (The Obamas are fighting childhood obesity)

  3. My Passion Issue: The New America by julia (This teen doesn’t like the Affordable Healthcare Act)

  4. My Passion Issue: Healthcare by batoolkram (In his native Pakistan, healthcare is a disaster)

  5. My Passion Issue: Healthcare by abhatla (Obama makes healthcare affordable)

  6. My Passion Issue: A Waste of Human Resources and Chronic Injustice, it Doesn’t Make any Sense by Fireworks (This teen will be voting for Ron Paul)

  7. My Passion Issue: Affordable Healthcare: What being pro-life actually looks like by lizzy_wimberly (No American should go bankrupt because they can’t afford necessary healthcare)


Israel

  1. My Passion Issue: I love Israel, America should too by Judd12 (Romney will protect and support Israel)


National Security

  1. My Passion Issue: National Security by broadwaybethany (Romney won’t let our country be attacked again)

  2. My Passion Issue: I Will Vote by AMemmler (This teen wants a strong leader)


Misc.

  1. My Passion Issue: The Battle of the Vote by BBurns (She will not be voting in this election)

Political Resources for Students

For students interested in getting involved in politics on their college campus, they should explore these websites:


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