Davis Zeroes In On The Under-30 Vote With University Rallies | KERA News

Davis Zeroes In On The Under-30 Vote With University Rallies

Sep 5, 2014

This week Republican Greg Abbott and Democrat Wendy Davis visited university campuses as they touted their plans for improving higher education.

But their styles couldn’t have been more different.

On Wednesday, Abbott methodically explained his plan to media gathered in a University of Texas conference room.  Five Republican legislators stood behind him as he spoke.

Davis sought to mobilize students and supporters with boisterous rallies at five universities in four days.

The final rally on Friday at the University of North Texas in Denton was the largest.  A thousand students and supporters stood in the sweltering heat as Davis in an ice-blue dress walked onto the stage with a backdrop of placard waving fans and a giant Texas flag.

“I have to say, Mean Green, you have shown up!  It’s awesome,” she said, using the name UNT uses to refer to its campus and activities.

At he rallies Davis touted her plans to improve technical education and make college affordable by increasing financial aid and eliminating the sales tax on text books.

UNT students Ari Edwards, Eva Arreguin and Jessica Benavides receive some financial assistance to attend college but say they still struggle to make ends meet.
Credit Shelley Kofler / KERA News

The biggest applause she got was when she contrasted her support to for increasing the minimum wage to Republican opponent Greg Abbott’s opposition.

Abbott has said the mandatory increase would be a job killer. 

Davis says an increase from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 would help students and families.

“(Earning) $7.25 an hour is $15,000 a year.  And I can tell you from experience that is not enough to support a family on,” she said.

“If he wants to have a fight on that issue I have three words for Greg Abbott:  Bring it on,” Davis challenged. 

Art student Ari Edwards says Davis’ message of financial assistance is one many students are eager to hear.

“Help with financial aid, minimum wage, things like that, are very important because it’s hard to go to school and be able to pay for everything,” said Edwards.

Sophomore Jackson Russo liked Davis’s social views, including her pro-choice position on abortion. 

“I’d like there just to be options, because there are circumstances, you know. If there was a rape or something I think someone should be able to opt out of that,” saying a woman who was assaulted should not be forced to have the baby.

Campuses have often been fertile ground for Democratic candidates.

In Texas and many parts of the country a majority of the under-30 vote has gone to Democrats.

In 2008, a presidential year, young Texas voters chose Barak Obama over John McCain, even though McCain won the statewide vote.

In 2010 a majority under 30 voted for Democrat Bill White, who lost the governor’s race to Republican Rick Perry.

Though college students won’t be the largest group of voters going to the polls this fall, and they aren’t likely to swing the election, they are an important part of the support Davis needs to pull off an upset.

“From now until Election Day I am asking you to help get out our vote,” she said.

Davis volunteers have been signing up students on campuses across the state, and asking them to encourage other young people to register.

The campaign said it doesn’t yet have a tally of how new voters registered during this week’s campus events.