Young Pennsylvania Voters attracted to Obama

Young Pennsylvania voters take a shine to Obama

Sun Apr 20, 2008 9:17am EDT

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By Paul Eckert

PITTSBURGH (Reuters) – Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is attracting record numbers of young voters — but will a demographic known for low turnout vote in enough numbers to defeat Hillary Clinton in the graying state of Pennsylvania?

Attracted by opposition to the Iraq war, antipathy to President George W. Bush or Clinton — and Obama’s aura of “hope” — Pennsylvanians in the 18-29 age bracket are rallying, registering and switching parties like never before.

At the University of Pittsburgh, a “power rally” by Pitt Students for Obama got 2,000 students to register as Democrats in order to vote for the senator. The state does not allow independents to vote in primary contests.

“There were a lot of independents and Republicans who support Senator Obama who had to switch their registration for Tuesday’s primary,” said Sarah Posner, 21, the group’s leader.

Pennsylvania is the next battleground for Clinton and Obama in their contest for the right to face Republican John McCain in the November election.

The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning & Engagement, or CIRCLE, which has tracked youth voting since the U.S. voting age was lowered to 18 in 1972, says this year has seen the highest national registration rate in history among those under 30.

Youth turnout in some state primaries this year tripled or even quadrupled over the previous presidential election, said CIRCLE Director Peter Levine.

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