Young voters across the country tuned in with anticipation Tuesday night to watch President Obama's State of the Union address. At a New York viewing party sponsored by Gen44 — a Democratic National Committee initiative to politically engage young professionals — MTV News asked voters for their opinions on how the president plans to address the issues facing the country.
While the event was filled with mostly Obama supporters, there were still some skeptics. Simone Rakhit supported Obama in the 2008 election — as did 66 percent of voters age 18 to 29 — but has become disengaged with the president in the three years since he took office and in the upcoming election. "For me, I had lost a little bit of interest, but seeing him tonight, I kind of got that spark back," Rakhit said. "I kind of got excited again."
Many young voters agreed that the president has a tough road ahead of him in accomplishing the goals he set forth in the State of the Union address, especially in boosting the economy. But they were still optimistic he could get the job done.
"I think the president did a great job tonight in addressing all of my concerns, and I think he did it in such a way that he could get a lot of people to rally around him and not just his supporters," Karsten Vagner said. "I think Americans are led by example. I think if we're divided as a country, it's because our government is divided."
Despite the president's low approval rating and this being an election year, voters we spoke to were glad the president did not hold back in his speech. "I thought it was great that he had Warren Buffett's secretary out there to serve as a visual example of just how absurd our tax system really is," Michael Ettanani said.
Vagner appreciated Obama's no-holds-barred approach to the speech: "Tonight was a really good example of seeing people together, and I think it's because we have a strong leader in the White House."
Shatha Dweik, who is pursuing a master's degree, was most interested in hearing the president's plans for job creation for recent graduates as well as his plan to extend the tuition tax credit. "My biggest concern is getting a job, and a good paying job at that," Dweik shared. After the speech, Dweik said she had "a little bit of confidence in him — a little bit more than I had going into the address." For her, the message of Tuesday night's speech was: "There is still hope."
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