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#NPRYouthVote: Will Young Voters Lead Or Lag In 2016?

Young people attend a political rally before the recent Jefferson-Jackson dinner in Iowa. Energizing young voters may be a challenge for presidential candidates ahead of 2016.
Charlie Neibergall
Young people attend a political rally before the recent Jefferson-Jackson dinner in Iowa. Energizing young voters may be a challenge for presidential candidates ahead of 2016.

In 2008, a surge of young voters transformed the political landscape. They were critical in making underdog candidate Barack Obama the Democratic nominee and, eventually, the president. They also helped propel Obama to a second term and gave candidates a crash course in communicating in the digital age. As we get closer to the 2016 election, are candidates successfully reaching young people?

Today, I'm in a place that is full of people with a passion for politics: Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. I'll be joined by a dynamic group of panelists to break down the facts and myths about young voters. In collaboration with Iowa Public Radio, we'll take the conversation to social media, where a group of young social influencers will lead a Twitter chat coinciding with the live event.

You can join that conversation tonight at 8 p.m. ET. Just use the hashtag #NPRYouthVote while listening to the event live here.

Joining us on Twitter are:

Joe Lazzerini @joelazzerini, recently elected National Chair of the Young Democrats of America LGBT Caucus.

Alex Smith @AlexandraCSmith, National Chairman of the College Republican National Committee.

Olivia O'Hea @OliviaOHea, youth political organizer and senior at Drake University, study politics and public relations.

Matt Scott @MattScottGW, digital strategist with the agency Social Driver, and a recent graduate of George Washington University.

Jack Hellie @TheHellJack, Editor-in-Chief of the Drake Political Review, and a junior at Drake University, studying politics and strategic political communications.

Featured Live Panelists

Hector Salamanca Arroyo has been involved in the community and local politics since 2011 as an organizer and activist for immigration reform and higher education access for Latino youth. He currently works at American Friends Service Committee as the grassroots engagement coordinator for the Presidential Campaign Project.

Rachel Paine Caufield teaches in the Department of Politics and International Relations and is the associate director of the Harkin Institute for Public Policy and Citizen Engagement at Drake University. For the past two election cycles, she has been the director of the Iowa Caucus Project at Drake, organizing candidate visits and campus participation in the caucus process.

Brandi Dye is a sophomore at Drake University, pursuing a double major in magazine media and public relations. She is a Crew Scholar and a columnist for Drake University's news publication The Times-Delphic. A passionate individual, Brandi follows political movements as many millennials do: via Twitter.

Clay Masters is an award-winning multimedia journalist at Iowa Public Radio. He is also part of NPR's Political Reporting Partnership, in which IPR and more than a dozen other public radio stations are working with NPR to provide deeper political coverage ahead of the 2016 elections.

Raymond Starks is a senior at Drake University studying politics and quantitative economics. An activist in the Republican Party, he serves on the board of the Central Committee and the Executive Committee for the Polk County Republican Party. Passionate about mental health issues, he started an organization to provide information and resources about mental health programming and services in the area to his university community.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Michel Martin is the weekend host of All Things Considered, where she draws on her deep reporting and interviewing experience to dig in to the week's news. Outside the studio, she has also hosted "Michel Martin: Going There," an ambitious live event series in collaboration with Member Stations.