[Guest post by DRJ]
The Politico reports that, for several reasons, Pennsylvania college students may not provide the support for Obama that college students in other states have:
“With 159 colleges and universities and approximately 680,000 students, Pennsylvania’s campus vote would appear to be Barack Obama’s ace in the hole in the state’s April 22 primary.
Yet in a tough contest where Obama will need every vote he can get, it’s unlikely that one of his most loyal constituencies will be able to provide him with much of a boost.”
Reasons include that Pennsylvania has a large number of out-of-state college students, most of whom are registered to vote at their home (parents’) residence so they can’t vote in Pennsylvania and will have to vote absentee. In addition:
“Pennsylvania’s election rules also act to suppress the college vote. The state has a closed primary, which means only registered Democrats can vote. Since college-age young people are disproportionately likely to be registered as independents, that will serve to limit the number of students who can vote.
Pennsylvania’s approach is distinct from Iowa and New Hampshire, two states where college students turned out in force in part because voters were permitted to register on Election Day and also because the two contests were open to independents.
While the Obama campaign has embarked on an effort to register students in Pennsylvania, a late start has limited its effectiveness.”
Finally, the campaigns’ voter registration efforts have only been active on some campuses since February. Obama has 70 chapters in Pennsylvania while Clinton has 35. However, registration deadlines fell during spring break at many colleges, hampering campus registration efforts and making the impact of new college voters negligible:
“According to Kolker, the Obama campaign netted “well over 5,000” new registrants. But that’s not nearly enough new voters to make an impact, says Terry Madonna, director of the Franklin and Marshall poll.
“I don’t think that’s an impressively large number,” said Madonna. “There are more than 4 million Democrats in the state and let’s say the turnout is 50 percent — and that doesn’t strike me as improbable. Two million people vote and Obama registered [at most] 10,000. You can do the math. That’s not a huge percentage.”
Obama garnered 10-30% more college votes than Clinton in Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada. He is popular on college campuses because of he is eloquent, students believe he can unify Americans, and … he’s cool:
“Darren Jackson, president of the BYU Democrats, said he thinks part of Obama’s appeal comes from his growing popularity among other college-aged students.
“It’s popular to like Obama,” Jackson said. “He’s something different from the traditional candidate, and people aren’t afraid to support him.”
Hancock agreed, citing Obama’s use of YouTube, Facebook and text messaging as a way of connecting with the new generation of voters. “The campaign has its own social network,” she said. “It’s not just you supporting Obama, it’s you and your friends all supporting him together.”
Obama is new, fun and hip. He’s the iPod of politicians.