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Age, The Voter, and the Candidate

On election day, the first report I received outside of San Diego came from a friend. & It said: "our daughter Sally said the polling place in her neighborhood in L.A. was swarming with smiling young people voting for Obama." & Then I heard from a young cousin who wrote: & ldquo;Since I only had one dot to fill in, and I wanted my vote for Obama to count in the great closely contested state of Connecticut, I filled in that dot like there was no tomorrow; you couldn't find a drop of white with a microscope. & rdquo; That's enthusiasm! & Earlier, I heard a KPBS reporter phoning in from the South Bay where young Democrats were at the polls voting for Obama. & Their middle-aged mothers and aunts supported Clinton.

In our age-conscious society where youth drives television programming, fashions, and even language, how important will age be in deciding the race for president?

Will young people favor the youngest candidate? & And if so, what would this mean for really young Republicans? & Might they switch party allegiances in order to avoid filling in the oval next to John McCain's name? The 71-year-old acknowledged the age challenge at the start of his campaign, and vowed to turn it into an advantage. & Read & ldquo;experience and authenticity & rdquo; instead of old. Apparently, based on the results of Super Tuesday, he did. &


Now we come to the Obama/Clinton showdown. & Neither candidate is a clear winner after Super Tuesday. & In the months ahead, both will be strategizing around race, gender, experience, vision, personality, issues, and age. National polls asked if older Americans were more ready to consider a woman president or a black president. The answers seemed to favor Hillary Clinton. In another pre-Super Tuesday poll of likely New York State voters, younger voters favored Obama while older voters planned to cast their ballots for Clinton. & When the votes were counted, Clinton indeed came out ahead in New York State.

So, here's a question worth some thought: if Clinton is the Democratic candidate, will a significant number of young Democratic voters not vote in the November general election, thus shrinking participation from Democrats? And, might some older Democratic voters be tempted to consider the older candidate, even if it means switching parties to vote for a Republican? Could age then determine who will be our next president?