January 30, 2008

After South Carolina’s Primary I drove down to Florida to see if I could talk to some young voters about their interest in the primary.

No surprises, the enthusiasm that I encountered was reflected the next day with a tripling in turnout among young voters.

According to CIRCLE 286,000 Florida citizens under the age of thirty participated in the primary yesterday. That is nearly half of all voters! And an increase in over 200,000 voters since 2000.

Comparisons to other caucuses and primaries must be made with caution, because turnout is affected by the date of the primaries and by the nature of the Democratic and Republican presidential campaigns, which are different in every state. In the case of Florida, not all the Democratic candidates contested the primary, so turnout was likely suppressed.

I saw this excitement first hand in a local bar in Jacksonville. Jackson of Jacksonville tells me he has never met Rudy–even though he lives in Florida. And when asked if he is voting for Rudy Jackson says “Hell no!! My mom likes Mitt Romney and I think my dad likes Rudy because of the way he handled 9-11.”

“I voted for Clinton, even though I don’t like her. Because I would rather have a woman president. I have a hard time supporting someone who is against gay marriage and I know she is more like. But I’d rather have a woman president, than Obama who…kinda sold out and is, ya know Oprah’s lapdog. I could be happy and whole heartedly support a woman president than Obama. It’s the progressive in me.”

Major issues to Jack factors into his decision proving once again that young people are focused on issues more this year than ever. “I don’t know… I know that she originally voted for Iraq and I don’t like people who turn around say–oh well… just kidding. Now that we know what happened… bad choice… That’s a decision you make every day and you can’t use that as an excuse. Going into a war…ya know, maybe we shouldn’t…. And its one of the things I don’t like about her.”

Jackson’s girlfriend could potentially go Clinton. She didn’t vote but she likes that Clinton is a woman too.

With all the talk of Rudy’s recruitment of young voters you’d think I would meet some of these people or maybe see pictures of them on his website for students. Maybe that’s indicative of the final count.

But CBSNews this morning says that Rudy called on young voters in Florida

“Last night, on the eve of the primary, Giuliani told a roaring crowd of hundreds of Florida International University students that he needs their vote.

“We’ve been campaigning in Florida, it seems like months, and I feel like I’m one of you.”

Stressing the importance of keeping the United States safe from terrorism, Giuliani said energy independence would silence the current administration’s enemies…”

But the folks I talked to were voting for anyone save Rudy.

Eric was my bar tender and was a solid Ron Paul guy. “He wants to legalize pot and that’s not the only reason, I mean, he wants to do a sales tax not an income tax. So basically people can’t skirt the law any more–they have to pay their fair share. Strippers, hookers, corporations, whoever.”

Jackson thought this was insane. “I see college kids handing out Ron Paul shit all over campus. I see the revolution signs spray painted everywhere–its borderline graffiti. I don’t think a candidate should be handing out graffiti. I don’t want someone like that running my country–it makes me feel like he’s smoking too much pot.”

Like many of the voters in CBS Miami looks this evening at the student vote here in Florida:

“…students like Brody Shulman at the University of Miami said they hit the polls because they were concerned about issues like the economy.

“It’s gonna be our jobs, going out there leaving college” said Shulman. “You can get the education but if there’s no jobs out there, what are we gonna do. We want to have something for the future…”

“I hope that this year will be different because you see a lot of momentum in college students now that wasn’t there especially in the last election,” said Lindsey Cartee. “So I hope that we have a voice that makes a difference because you know we really are the future of the country.”

The Florida Primary has left serious casualties. John Edwards, who has not broken out above the second place finish he had in Iowa will bow out this afternoon at 1pm ET in New Orleans–the site of his announcement. Edwards has brought issues to this campaign that no one was talking about until a year ago including poverty. CNN reports that Edwards called both Obama and Clinton and he has a commitment from them to include poverty in their overall message and in their administrations.

Rudy Giuliani plans to endorse John McCain today after putting all of his eggs in Florida and finishing only third.