Sunday, October 24, 2004

Kerry up big with college students
Donkey Rising links to a Harvard study showing Kerry with a 13-point lead among college students. Most people will dismiss this finding, claiming that young people always lean left. But this doesn't square with what I see on my campus, the University of Pennsylvania. Two years ago, I was the teaching assistant for two courses, an intro to international relations class, and a class on the international politics of the Middle East.

In both cases, the students seemed disproportionately supportive of President Bush. Both courses dealt with the Iraq war (which was still impending) at great length, and I was astonished by the degree of enthusiasm for the war among the students. An essay question on the international relations exam asked about the war, and I'd say at least two out of three were in favor. The Democratic opposition at this time was getting rolled in the House and Senate, and had just gotten creamed in the 2002 mid-term elections.

Today I'm TA'ing for an intro to politics class, and the sentiment seems completely reversed from two years ago. I'd say that at least two out of three students in my classes are for Kerry. An essay question on the mid-term which asked about the Iraq war and the theory of the democratic peace elicited mostly negative responses about the U.S. decision to launch its preventive war. There are still a few people sticking up for Bush, but overall, it looks like the President is really struggling with this demographic.

I really think that young people are going to vote in significant numbers this year, and that the current polling simply isn't picking this up -- both because likely voter models don't factor in first-time voters, and because people in the 18-29 age group tend to move around frequently, and tend to rely on cell phones for almost all communication. If the Democratic groups can make sure these people get to the polls, it should be a huge boost for the Kerry campaign. The President has certainly done all he can to alienate young voters -- the fact that a draft is a serious topic of national discussion must be absolutely killing Bush's numbers. It's up to Kerry to close the deal.

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