Sunday, September 07, 2008

Barack Rocks the Youth Vote.

There's a really interesting post over at The Great Orange Satan where a teacher in central Washington State, of which he states, "For those of you who aren't familiar with Washington politics east of the Cascade Mountains, that's the red half."

He asked his class to score the acceptance speeches of both Barack Obama and John McCain and found surprising results.

I've also been registering them to vote, in numbers I haven't seen in 15 years of teaching, and after they watched the McSame speech today, the early preference from their scorecards came in. Of 102 students, 64% would vote Obama if the election were held today. 25% are McCain supporters, and 11% are still undecided. Yes, you heard that right. Deep in the middle of one of the reddest districts in the western states, the one that voted for Bush over Kerry by 2 to 1 in 2004, Barack Obama is kicking ass with the youth vote.

What's more, these are all first time voters, like many of the college students around the state, and the pollsters who tell us what a tight race it is have no way of measuring that vote accurately. These students have cellphones and Blackberries and wouldn't know a landline if they tripped over it. This, I believe, will be one of Obama's greatest trump cards come election day: a large and energized demographic in the youth vote that isn't on anyone's radar screens that will turn the election his way in swing states and key congressional districts.

One of the things which most impressed me during Obama's battle for the Democratic nomination was his ability to organise - I suppose community organisers are good at something, Sarah Palin - and there is every indication that November 4th will prove once again his skills in that area.

I've spoken before about his Vote for Change campaign and how this promises to have around a million people volunteering on Obama's behalf.

One of the things Obama has really done is that he has energised America's youth and brought them into play in this election as never before.

There have been stories everywhere of young voters badgering their parents to support Obama during his epic battle with Hillary:

As the race for the Democratic presidential nomination continues, youthful volunteers for each candidate have been campaigning with bright-eyed brio, not only door-to-door but also at home. But the young supporters of Mr. Obama, who has captured a majority of under-30 primary voters, seem to be leading in the pestering sweepstakes. They send their parents the latest Obama YouTube videos, blog exhortations and “Tell Your Mama/Vote for Obama!” bumper stickers.

Megan Simpson, a Penn State senior, had not been able to budge her father, a Republican. But the day before the deadline for registering for the coming Democratic primary in Pennsylvania, she handed him the forms and threw in a deal-sweetener as well. “I said, ‘Dad, if you change your party affiliation in time to vote for Obama,’ ” recalled Ms. Simpson, 22, an Obama campus volunteer, “ ‘I will get you the paperwork the day after the primary if you want to switch back to being a Republican.’ ”

Thus did Ralph E. Simpson Jr., 50, construction company owner, become a newly minted Democrat. “I probably will switch my affiliation back,” Mr. Simpson said, “but I haven’t decided who I will vote for in the general election. If Meg keeps working on me, who knows?”
I have no doubt that Mr Simpson will return to the Republican fold, but that doesn't matter. Obama will retain a highly charged and totally committed youth vote. Come election day they will not let him down.

With the appointment of Palin, McCain has shored up his base; but, if he thinks the conservative base plus one campaign which Rove fought when up against Kerry will work a second time, I think he's greatly mistaken.

Under Obama the Democratic base has expanded, it's no longer a level playing field; and, as this teacher in the very conservative central Washington State has found, his message is resonating with the young as never before, even in conservative strongholds.

Come election day, they will be his secret weapon.

Click title for full article.

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