Local News

Young Voter Turnout Could Determine Next President

Posted March 28, 2008 10:37 p.m. EDT
Updated March 29, 2008 8:42 a.m. EDT

— The race for the White House targets young voters in the Triangle Saturday with Hillary Rodham Clinton's daughter, Chelsea Clinton, and other prominent Democrats in Raleigh for the Young Democrats of North Carolina's annual convention.

Young voters will also have an opportunity to join the Barack Obama campaign with a kickoff planned Saturday morning on Franklin Street.

"We're excited more than ever. We're engaged more than ever, and we are ready to take our rightful place at the table of democracy,"  Young Democrats President Zack Hawkins said.

The number of 18-29-year-old voters has increased in every state's primary or caucus this year – for example, Iowa saw a 133-percent rise, and Texas' turnout increased by more than 300 percent.

Many say young voters could decide this year's election.

"Young people care about the issues that matter to America," Jay Dawkins, president of North Carolina State University's College Republicans. "We care about the economy. We care about lower taxes, and we care about health care."

Young Democrats say their candidates are easier to relate to.

"When you have someone so fresh and inspiring, like Obama, and you have someone around as long as Clinton has—and that we feel we have a great attachment to – it really engages young people and makes us feel like we have a part in the process," Hawkins said.

While John McCain is older, young Republicans say age isn't as important as the issues.

"I think, as we get closer to the election, the issues will become more apparent," Dawkins said. "And I feel John McCain, at this point, is more frankly addressing the issues at hand for our nation."