President Obama kicked off efforts to rally the Democratic base and, especially, young people last night with a speech at the University of Wisconsin. Following musical performances by Mama Digdown’s Brass Band, Ben Harper, and The National — as well as words from local pols like Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.) and Milwaukee mayor and gubernatorial candidate Tom Barrett (D- Wisc.) — Obama urged supporters to get out and vote this November:
“They’re betting on your apathy,” Obama said of his political opponents Tuesday, addressing a sprawling crowd reminiscent of ones he drew on the campaign trail two years ago. “Madison, you’ve got to prove them wrong.”
Getting the governing party’s base out in force for midterm voting is historically an uphill battle, in large part because the president himself will not be on the ballot. If the crowd in Madison is any indication, however, it seems Democrats still have a fighting chance at driving turnout among the youth vote:
Though details for attending the rally were released only days ago, turnout was substantial. Lines for entrance into the rally, interspersed with a handful of protesters, formed early in the day, eventually stretching longer than a mile west across the campus. The UW Police Department estimates that some 26,500 persons attended the event, of which 17,200 were in the gated area around the mall. These numbers rival, and may exceed those tallied in February 2008 for the Obama campaign rally at the Kohl Center.