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Obama leading in Arizona youth vote

Hometown candidate McCain up by 10 percent in state

 by Lindsey Davis
 published on Monday, July 7, 2008


Recent polls show Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., as the front-runner for the youth vote in Arizona, although his Republican opponent is expected to win the state.

According to a recently-released ASU Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication/Channel Eight poll conducted on June 28, voters in Arizona under the age of 35 are heavily voting for Obama, but Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., leads by about 10 percent overall in his home state.

This is not a huge change in trends, as younger voters typically vote more liberal, but Obama's message is capturing the young vote, ASU political science professor Kim Fridkin said.

Younger people statistically tend to be against the war in Iraq, so Obama's pledge to pull out the troops resonates with many, Fridkin said.

"His message is about change," she said, "and that appeals to the younger generation."

Fridkin said the trend of younger voters favoring Obama is something that is probably not going to change, but the unpredictability of youth turnout is always a factor.

"Whether or not this has an impact on the election depends on if Obama can get the younger generation to get out and vote," Fridkin said.

Fridkin said that Obama's younger age is also an advantage to capturing to the young vote. McCain will be 72 when he takes office if elected and Obama will be 47.

"McCain is older and been in Washington for a while," Fridkin said, "and Obama is younger and closer to their generation."

Despite the poll numbers, Arizona Republicans remain positive about capturing the youth vote, and intend to keep their campaign the same and continue educating young voters about Republican polices.

"We intend to maintain a positive message, maybe refuting some of the Democrats' talking points, but not 'going negative' on anyone personally," said Wil Westholm, chairman of the Arizona Young Republican League.

But some ASU students think that Obama's younger age is a reason they relate to him better. Obama has a more open-minded approach and his environment stance is stronger than McCain's, graduate student Ryan Miller said.

"I think it's hard for (McCain) to relate to us because he's older," Miller said. "McCain is representing a continuation of the current administration," Miller said.

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