Saturday, January 26, 2008

Obama's Sleeping Giant: Young Voters

Since the campaign started nearly a year ago, the Obama campaign has carefully courted and organized young people to support his candidacy. Indeed, it was a group of young supporters known as Students for Barack Obama that helped orchestrate the drive for Obama to run in the first place.

If these young people do actually awake and turn out on Feb. 5, the Illinois senator could shock everyone with a tsunami victory. If not, then it will be much, much tougher. Of course, there are other important factors like independent voters, cross-over voters, etc., but none quite so difficult to predict as young voters.

According the U.S. census, about 10.46 percent of the Iowa population is between 18 and 24 years old. In comparison, New Hampshire has about 9.13 percent in the same category and Nevada only 8.55 percent.

South Carolina, which just finished voting today, has 9.72 percent in the 18-24 range. We saw today a masterful example of how getting out the vote should be done.

Tsunami Tuesday states with high percentages of young people include North Dakota (12.86%), Utah (12.51%), Alaska (10.70%), Kansas (10.59%), New Mexico (10.48%), California (10.38%), Minnesota (10.07%) and New York (10.04%).

In traditional voter turnout among Feb. 5 states, Minnesota (43%) and Massachusetts (34%) are standouts.

Much of Barack's support among young people is found at the nation's colleges and universities. California had the leading number of fall enrollment in 2005 with 2,399,833 at degree-granting institutions followed by New York, among Feb. 5 states, with 1,152,081.

Hillary Clinton's campaign understands Barack's appeal to young people and recently she has highlighted her programs to cut tuition fees and reign in predatory student lenders. Her daughter Chelsea and Hollywood stars like America Fererra can also be expected to make circuits of college campuses for Hillary.

Obama may have a bit of a lead here though with hundreds of college chapters of Students for Barack Obama created over the last year. It will be up to his supporters though to make sure these chapters are energized to spread the word and get out the youth vote.


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