The new voter: From an early age, a GOP activist is born
Tanya Renicker of Ohio University bucks the ‘youth vote’ trend to back McCain-Palin, even going door to door on the ticket’s behalf.
From the time Tanya Renicker was in sixth grade, she knew she’d vote as soon as she could. Soon after she turned 18 last year, she drove the 16 miles from her family’s farm in Sherrodsville, Ohio, to the Tuscarawas County Courthouse and registered to vote.Skip to next paragraph
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On March 4, the day of the Republican primary in Ohio, she pulled the lever for the first time.
“My mom took a picture of me going in to vote,” she says. “It was such an emotional experience. I was so excited to have a say in our government. I just wish everybody was as excited about it as I am.”
Not so long ago, this young woman would have had little company. Many young people were tuned out from politics. Fewer than half of those ages 18 to 24 who were eligible to cast ballots in 2000 actually did so. But this could be called the Year of the Young. Fully 86 percent of young people say they will probably vote on Nov. 4, polls show.
Tanya, however, is not like a majority of her peers: She’s a committed Republican. Young people are voting for Democrat Barack Obama by more than 60 percent, according to a recent poll by the Democratic polling firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research. A separate poll by nonpartisan Zogby International – this one of cellphone users, who tend to be young – found a similar result.
“A lot of people are voting early and doing voting absentee, but I’m going to the polls on Nov. 4 to cast my ballot. I want to get my ‘I voted today’ sticker,” says Tanya, a junior at Ohio University in Athens. “I’ve been waiting for this a long time.”
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Tanya has been smitten with politics ever since her first real lesson in American history, in sixth grade. She can’t explain why, but the story of how the United States was founded, how the Constitution was written, fascinated her. That evolved into a passion for politics, since “it all comes together there.”
“Back then,” she recalls, “all my friends’ families were liberals except one, my friend Kinsey, and me. We used to say, ‘We love George Bush’ when we really didn’t know that much about politics yet. My interest has just grown since then.”