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Obama Top Choice in American University Survey

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By Sakina Rangwala and Liz Anderson
Special to washingtonpost.com
Monday, March 3, 2008; 9:00 AM

Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) emerged as the leading candidate among 128 young people surveyed online by American University last month.

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The junior senator from Illinois received 71 percent of the vote among those who had voted or were planning to vote in a Democratic primary, while Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y) received 12 percent of their primary votes. Among Republican primary voters surveyed, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) received 41 percent of their votes, followed by Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.), a favorite among some young people, who garnered 18 percent of the respondents' votes; former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney trailed with 15 percent and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee drew 10 percent of the respondents' votes.

When young voters in the survey were asked to volunteer the name the candidate they would vote for if the presidential election were held today, Obama came in first, with 54 percent of the respondents choosing him. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) came in second place, with 19 percent of the respondents selecting him as their presidential candidate of choice. Approximately 10 percent of the respondents chose Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) as their presidential candidate. Reflecting national trends so far in voting by young people in primaries, Obama was the choice of both young men and young women in the AU online interviews, despite the fact that several of those surveyed said they admire Clinton as the first woman who could be elected president.

McCain's personal history as a war hero, along with his views and experience, were cited by a number of those surveyed as reasons why they would vote for him. Matt Grashoff, a senior at Allegheny College in Pennsylvania, said, "If Obama is the Democratic nominee, I will vote for him. If Clinton is the nominee, I will vote for McCain-not because I necessarily dislike Clinton, but more because I have a great deal of respect for McCain."

Sen. Obama's campaign message of "post-partisanship" appeared to be getting through to those young voters who said they support him. "We have a candidate who sees the world as we see it and embodies the ideals of our generation: unity and cooperation rather than partisan bickering, doing what is right for everyone instead of what is right for each of us individually," said Melanie Wong, a recent Northwestern University graduate who is planning to vote in Colorado.


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