Students active in Va. primary

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January 18, 2008

9:45 AM

Election fervor gripped the country Jan. 3 as the Iowa caucus results signified the beginning of the presidential hopefuls’ race to secure party nominations.

p. According to CNN, 22 percent of Democratic votes and 11 percent of Republican votes in Iowa were cast by the 17 to 22-year-old age group. In Michigan, exit polls showed that 17 percent and 13 percent of Democratic and Republican votes, respectively, were attributed to the same age group.

p. The increasing importance of student voters is an evident trend.
“Campaigns realize that when they take young people seriously, young people will respond to that and turn out to vote,” Tobin Van Ostern, the national deputy director of students for Barack Obama, said. “It’s a great trend that we are seeing, and likely will continue for some time to come.”

p. In Virginia, the primary will be held Feb. 12. Students, whose political opinions have often been stronger than their numbers at the polls, are now taking steps to increase their political influence.
Ross Gillingham ’10, the campaign coordinator for the College’s Young Democrats, said that the primary concern for the group is registration drives.

p. “Though we are not allowed to endorse a candidate in the primaries, we are involved in statewide registration drives, and we continue to aid the [Student Assembly – led] voter registration drive,” Gillingham said.

p. Van Ostern also reinforced the important political position students play.

p. “Students, and young people in general, have a huge role in electing candidates,” he said. “Not only do they provide a large proportion of active volunteers such as phone bankers and canvassers for most campaigns, [but] they also are voting in increasing proportions.”

p. Van Ostern has worked closely with the Obama campaign to increase student turnout; “In Iowa we saw over 50,000 young people come out and vote, at least double what there was for the under-30 age group just four years ago,” he said.

p. “With new media, such as YouTube and Facebook, becoming involved in political campaigns, elections are becoming a bigger part of our lives,” Alexa Hoyne ’10 said. “It’s easier to become involved.”

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