Poll: Obama dominates as students' choice

Presidential candidate and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama has surged in recent primary elections, surprising many who felt that New York Sen. Hillary Clinton was poised to take the nomination.

Obama, who won primaries in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia on Tuesday, has showed a very high level of popularity among young people, a trend that has spread to Geneseo, a Lamron poll has found.

Approximately 130 people participated in an online query that asked students who they supported for the November election among Obama, Clinton, Arizona Sen. John McCain, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, or other candidates.

Obama received 46 percent of the total vote. Clinton came in second with 28 percent, McCain took third with 15 percent, and Huckabee got four percent. The "other" category received seven percent of the overall vote.

Obama's favorable numbers among youth voters is a nationwide trend. According to The Associated Press, exit polls in the Virginia primary showed Obama won the support of 76 percent of Democrats under 30. In the same category, he took 64 percent in Maryland.

Newsweek reported that Obama also did well among youth in earlier primaries. He took the 18-29 demographic by a 4-to-1 margin in Iowa and a 3-to-1 margin in South Carolina.

Though candidates in the past have banked on getting younger voters to the polls to propel them into office, this is the first time that strategy appears to be working.

In 2004, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean expected a large turnout from young voters; instead many of them did not vote and Dean lost the nomination to Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts. In 2000, former New Jersey Sen. Bill Bradley had similar hopes, but again the youth did not turn out at the polls and former Vice President Al Gore became the nominee.

The youth voting trends at Geneseo and nationwide don't surprise some Geneseo students.

"I think it would make sense among young people because Obama is presented as a very vibrant candidate, someone from outside the system," said political science professor Alexis Henshaw. "He is portrayed as someone who can handle change better than Clinton could."

Senior Melanie Church also saw parallels between Geneseo students and youths nationally.

"I support Obama as well," she said. "It seems that that's the overall trend that people are going towards."

"From my experience, most people support Obama or Clinton, but this is a pretty liberal school so that's probably why," said junior Laura Lonski. "I think this is an election that a lot of people care about."

Not all students, however, are jumping on the Obama train.

"I was originally supporting Giuliani but I'm now supporting McCain for obvious reasons," said senior Elise Puzio, a Republican. "…I picked him because I felt he was the lesser of three evils after Giuliani dropped out and he has the most experience."

She also said that students may be hesitant to support McCain because, "he's a lot harder to relate to than Obama or Hillary."

Still other students feel that it is too early to start thinking about who to vote for. Junior Christin Thorpe feels that she isn't ready to pick a candidate.

"It's kind of hard to keep track of, so once we know who the candidates are it will make more sense to focus on the issues and make a decision," she said.

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