College Students Ready for President Obama

A Project by American University Students
Thursday, November 29, 2007; 9:16 AM

Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama is actively courting the youth vote, making an appearance on "Saturday Night Live," posting that clip on YouTube and publicizing events on social networking Web sites like Facebook.

And his campaign to snare young voters appears to working, according to a recent survey of college students. Out of 95 students answering the open-ended horserace question in response to online interviews conducted by the politics in the media class at American University, 27 percent said they would vote for Obama if the election happened today. No candidate choices were provided, and respondents wrote in their own answers.

"Obama, he's the new wave," said Amber Sawyer, a senior at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro.

Students said they support Obama because of his youthful personality and his platform of working beyond partisan politics to concentrate on policy.

"I like his young appeal," said David Morin, a student at the University of Southern California. "I think he has new ideas and is eager to serve the people of America."

In comparison, about 18 percent of students said they supported Democratic frontrunner Sen. Hillary Clinton (N.Y.). Nearly half of Clinton's supporters said they support Clinton because of her experience in the White House and Senate. The only other Democratic candidate receiving votes was John Edwards, with 5 percent of the student support.

Among Republican candidates, Rudy Giuliani led with 6 percent of the students' support, followed closely by Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul with 5 percent and 4 percent, respectively. Students said they support Giuliani because of his views on conservative issues, his experience as a leader on September 11, 2001, and his vision for Iraq.

"I don't think any of the proposed plans to end Iraq are perfect, but I also don't think there will ever be a perfect plan," said Deepa Raghunathan, a senior at New York University. "Giuliani's is a solid start."

Some political analysts have speculated that much of the Obama support may not translate to other candidates if he does not win the Democratic nomination, but that sentiment isn't reflected by responses by the surveyed students. Although many students cited a specific candidate that they plan to support, nearly three-quarters of the respondents said they plan to vote along their own party lines, regardless of who is chosen as the party's nominee. And out of the 95 respondents, 19 percent said they have not yet chosen a candidate or have decided not to vote.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company