COLUMBIA - Their faces were the eager confidence of youth — not yet humbled by defeat.
"Kids are very excited," said Jonathan Ratliff, 19, a University of Missouri sophomore from Shell Knob, and president of the local College Republicans.
"LI respect the Obama campaign for bringing more people in. (But) once they do their research, they realize they stand with John McCain."
Predictably, his counterpart saw it differently.
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"The economy, the war in Iraq — those things have coalesced things for us," said Rick Puig, 20, a junior from Parkville and head of the state's Young Democrats. "People feel they can make a difference."
This could, indeed, be the year that younger voters turn a national election — assuming they turn out. More than a few signs have pollsters and strategists expecting a record vote from the lopsidedly Democratic under-30 crowd.
- They are registered at far greater numbers than their parents were at the same age.
- They not only tell pollsters they plan to vote in greater numbers this year, more say they are closely following the presidential campaign (typically on news Web sites, while their folks keep tabs watching TV).
- And young voters showed during the Democratic primary season — especially in the drawn-out battle between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton — that they have taken a keener interest this year.
Yet even analysts temper their predictions.
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