In his new book, “Voting With our Pants Down: Why 44 Million Young Voters Have the Power to Begin the World Over Again,” author Rob Grabow, a Gonzaga University graduate, explores today’s 18-29-year-old electorate in a text loaded with facts, forceful analysis and colorful anecdotes.
Author Rob Grabow, Gonzaga Alumnus
Grabow returns to follow up on a previous book, “What We Think: Young Voters Speak Out,” published just before the 2004 election, in which he and co-editor Dean Robbins, Gonzaga seniors and political opposites set out to provide a “voice” for the 34 million 18-to-24-year-olds in the United States with a provocative compilation that addressed the war in Iraq, organized religion’s place in the political arena, the morality of armed conflict, gender equality, affirmative action, and the draft. “What We Think” also featured essays, poems and illustrations by 90 young adults from across the political spectrum. As a result of their work on that project, Grabow and Robbins were interviewed on CNN, MNSBC, and CSPAN’s Book TV.
In “Voting with Our Pants Down,”Grabow aggressively tackles the topic in a style that is part memoir, part political essay, and which offers a compelling argument for why contemporary young adults will likely be the voting bloc to decide the upcoming election. Grabow delves deeper into the tectonic sociological shifts that have shaped and defined today’s post-racial, digitally dialed-in generation.
Among Grabow’s central themes is why young people are consistently described as apathetic when “nearly 50 percent of young people do vote” and “nearly 70 percent of high school and college students [volunteer] on a regular or semi-regular basis.” Grabow takes the media to task for this, in part, noting, “What’s most disheartening is that when we are talked about, when questions of demographic identity arise, when questions about young voters are asked, who comes on to answer them? For the most part it isn’t us.”
The book is divided into three sections: “A Stake in the Neighborhood – Who Are Young Voters?”; “Political Truthiness – How Do Young Voters Think?”; and “Preview of Coming Attractions – Why Should Anyone Care?” In these sections, Grabow makes a case for the political clout of the under-30 generation, not just in the United States, but worldwide. He offers cogent answers to a wide range of topical questions, including:
- Why does Obama lead McCain by 23 points among young voters? Will the lead hold?
- What factors increase young voter turnout?
- Why do some young voters choose not to vote?
- Why is it that political engagement and concern don’t always translate into voting?
- How will young voter views of contemporary hot-button political issues shift the traditional definitions of conservative and liberal
- How will the Internet, growing market economies, and huge youth populations in regions such as North Africa and the Middle East converge to impact global political changes in the coming decade? Consider that 60 percent of Iranians are under 26-years-old.
“In 2004, John Kerry carried only one age-demographic in the '04 elections, 18- to 29-year-olds,” Grabow writes. “He did so by almost 13 points. Coupled with record turnout among young voters, this fact alone nearly put him over the top. Currently, Obama leads McCain by 23 points among 18- to 29-year-olds. Pre-registration among young voters is pushing 80 percent and higher in some critical swing states. If they turnout in percentages close to 60, which many are predicting, that would yield a net 5.2 million votes for Obama, more than enough to put him over-the-top in an otherwise close election. This is one of a dozen examples of why anyone should care what young voters think. The merit of this holds true regardless of political leaning.”
The book also makes the following points, among many others:
- Today’s young voters are the most diverse in U.S. History. Nearly 40 percent are minority. They're also among the best educated, best traveled, most financially literate, and 79 percent call themselves religious or spiritual.
- The book includes excerpts of submissions from students all across the country, many in swing states.
- Over half the deaths in Iraq are from our demographic, yet there remains no national forum through which we can express our thoughts or ideas on critical hot topic issues.
- There are over 44 million young voters with the power and will to adjudicate the outcome of these elections.
- Young voters are registered in record numbers. In 2004, 51.9 percent of young voters turned out. This year that percentage will likely reach close to 60.
- The book shows where young voters stand on hot-button issues ranging from gay marriage, race relations, and affirmative action to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the economy, and education, to name a few.
The book is part memoir, part anthology, part essay, part research paper, seamlessly woven together with a healthy dose of pop-culture and deft story-telling.
In 2005, Grabow graduated magna cum laude from Gonzaga with a degree in finance. An avid traveler who grew up in Alaska, Grabow has lived in four countries and visited more than 30. He speaks fluent German and conversational Spanish and Italian. He is deeply passionate about young voters, has delivered keynote addresses on the topic at venues across nationwide and, for the past four years, has dedicated himself to learning about his peers and the profoundly powerful voting bloc of 44 million people they represent.
“Voting With Our Pants Down”publishes this week and is now available on Amazon as well as select bookstores.
For more information, contact Rob Grabow directly at (509) 499-2679 or via e-mail.