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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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    Young Voters Stick to Issues Not Parties

    A survey by the Harvard Institute of Politics on politics and public service shows that there have been “dramatic changes in the way young Americans think about relate to and engage in politics.”

    Studies have shown a record turn out for young people in the 2008 presidential election, citing a 31 percent increase in the number of young voters in the 2008 primaries when compared with the number in 2004.

    The 2008 presidential election has slightly begun to shatter the stereotype that younger voters tend to be liberals and older ones tend to be conservatives. Though New York is a Democratic state, many young voters are exploring their options.

    In an interview, Mayor Pontieri of Patchogue, N.Y. spoke about young voters’ impartiality. “I think the economy plays very much into that,” Pontieri said. “The economic conditions and the reality of being in the war changes the dynamics of ‘if you’re a conservative at 40 or a liberal at 20.'”

    The voting tendency of the youth is not, in fact, highly liberal. The Harvard Institute of Politics found 25 percent were registered republicans, 35 percent were registered independents and 40 percent democrats. It is the same study that found more people within that demographic are voting outside their political party, with Obama leading by 21 points among young voters.

    “You can’t get what you want if you don’t vote,” says political science major Conor Harrigan, a senior and member of the College of Republicans. But because the numbers are growing, it gives young voters a chance to be acknowledged by the political power.

    “Historically the turn out percentage-wise has been low,” Harrigan said. “We never come out in full force. Everyone says this is a different election for kids our age, 18 to 24.”

    Adam Peck, a junior and a member on the board for the College Democrats, said he believed the election is changing the face of politics.

    “I defiantly believe Stony Brook University is heavily democratic,” Peck said. “We are finding a lot of support for Barack Obama on campus.”

    Harrigan agreed. “Young people tend to be more liberal,” he said.

    Jeffrey Akita, the president of Stony Brook University Student Government, is a registered Democrat, but like many college students, may be voting outside of his political party lines.

    “I go with who’s going to help me tomorrow, not just today,” Akita said. “You can fix the problems of today but it’s only a good president that can fix the problems of today and tomorrow.”

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