Student Contributions Decline

College students were contributing more and more money to presidential campaigns for the last decade, and then they stopped.

According to an article by Zach Helfand in USA Today:

The amount of money contributed to campaigns by those listed as “students” has grown nearly six-fold from 2000 to 2008. The amount of student donors has sharply decreased, though, in the 2012 election cycle.

Students donated $337,000 to both parties in the first six months of the 2000 presidential election cycle, according to a report by the Center for Responsive Politics and the Washington Post. That number grew in 2004 and ballooned to $1,967,000 in the first six months of the 2008 cycle. The Center for Responsive Politics’ tally for the current election cycle, $863,230 is under half of the 2008 figure.

It’s a little unclear why this is happening. Students never have much money so the fact that they’re poor shouldn’t really matter here.

One thing driving down the donations may be the economy, however. The country was in a recession in 2008, too, but there’s a difference between how students feel about politics now and how they felt then. The economy’s been bad for so long now that it’s harder to justify much spending on political candidates. The benefits of such contributions are often hard to discern but the hit to the wallet is pretty easy to see.

President Obama has received $203,207 in contributions from college students. Mitt Romney has racked up $201,000. Rick Perry got $73,750 from students. All of these contributions constitute very small portions of candidates’ total campaign money.

While the youth vote is certainly important, according to the article, candidates receive the vast majority of individual financial contributions from older adults.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer