Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Mall Rats For Obama

There once was a time when each morning we'd hop on our bikes and head over to the mall to shoot the breeze, where we'd get into vigorous debates about the important issues of the day. A Fribble at Friendly's or an Orange Julius? Pac Man or pinball at the video arcade? (Geez, how long ago was that?).

These days, the younger set is much more serious, at least according to General Growth, the (Chicago-based) owner of our sprawling indoor main street.

Considered by many to be the most important presidential election in the past 50 years, the upcoming election is top-of-mind for Americans – even for teens under the legal voting age. This summer General Growth Properties (NYSE: GGP), with the help of Disney star Selena Gomez, gave teens a chance to make their voices heard through an innovative, nationwide campaign, UR Votes Count. The program provided teens an opportunity to vote on important, relevant topics, such as the economy, environment, healthcare, the Iraq war, Social Security, national security and education, as well as their choice for the next U.S. president.

After 150 malls, 42 states and six weeks, teens’ choice for the next president of the United States was clear. Illinois Senator Barack Obama won by an overwhelming 62 percent. Arizona Senator John McCain captured 33 percent of the votes, with Bob Barr and Ralph Nader rounding out the vote at two and three percent respectively.

“It’s incredible so many teens came out to vote and learn more about the issues facing our nation today,” said Disney star Selena Gomez. “Thank you to General Growth Properties for providing teenagers, like me, the opportunity to have our voices heard. I’m so proud to have been able to lend a hand in helping to educate my peers and usher in this next generation of voters.”

When it comes to important issues facing the nation, the environment and education are top-of-mind for teens. Seventy-seven percent of teens plan to attend college. However, student loans will affect their decision. Nearly half of 17-year-olds will select their college or university based on the potential amount of debt they might take on through loans. The environment also proved to be a key concern for teens. Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) are partly basing their vote on a candidate’s stance on the environment. More than half (59 percent) believe the government should take stronger action and pass laws directing citizens to become more “green.”

“It’s so important people vote. With all of the attention and excitement surrounding the upcoming presidential election, we knew this would be a great time to engage and educate teens on the political process,” said Wally Brewster, senior vice president, Marketing & Communications, General Growth Properties. “It’s essential teens know their vote counts and they are empowered to shape the world as they think it should be.”

Rounding out the hot topics on the minds of America’s future voters are the economy, Social Security, healthcare, the Patriot Act and the Iraq war. Not surprisingly, teens are very aware of today’s challenging economy. Nearly 90 percent believe the current economy is affecting their daily life as a teenager and 44 percent think it will take more than two years for the economy to improve.

When it comes to Social Security, only 39 percent of teens believe it will be available for them when they reach retirement age. Approximately 65 percent think they will need to provide support to their parents if Social Security isn’t available when their parents reach retirement age. As for healthcare, an overwhelming 79 percent of teens think the federal government should provide healthcare for citizens.

The Patriot Act stirs up mixed feelings. Overall, 56 percent believe the Patriot Act effectively protects the nation from terrorism. However, roughly one-quarter (26 percent) believe, while it protects the country from terrorism, it takes away too much privacy and liberty. When it comes to the Iraq war, teens firmly voice their choice – more than half believe the U.S. should begin troop withdrawal now. For more information about program results, visit

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