Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Republican Student Vote

Eight years ago, when he ran against George W. Bush in the Republican primary, John McCain held both the maverick label and the support of many college students.

But in this year's Republican contest, Ron Paul was the darling of many students on college campuses, even after he left the Republican race, and that support was still evident among the many young voters who skipped class to be at his daylong rally on Tuesday in Minneapolis.

The presence of thousands of supporters of Representative Paul, a septuagenarian libertarian from Texas, is a reminder to Mr. McCain and his supporters, gathered this week across the Mississippi River in St. Paul, that they will have to compete for the youngest voters. And they face a tough fight against the Democratic candidate in the general election, Barack Obama, who even the president of the College Republicans says sometimes seems like he's "running to be a pop star."

While Mr. McCain leads Mr. Obama among all other age groups of voters, he trails him among those ages 18 to 34, 37 percent to 55 percent, according to a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll conducted late last month.

So, what happened? Did Senator McCain change? Or did young voters?

Read The Chronicle's story, by Karin Fischer, to find out what political scientists and others say.

We also have this video of students explaining why they support Mr. Paul.

Other Chronicle coverage of the Republican convention, including reports on student protests, what college students are doing at the convention, how young delegates responded to Sarah Palin's speech, and other topics can be followed on our Campaign U. blog.

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