One of my nieces attends college in Pennsylvania, where she’s studying to be a vet, though she is a talented cartoonist, as well (yes, she is the force behind the PunditMom caricature!)

On a whim, I thought I would ask her to poll her friends to get a sense of what the late teen/early 20’s set in the Keystone State is thinking about the presidential race, now that they have a chance to vote in their first national election. No, this is not a scientific sample, but it does give us a glimpse into how some young Pennsylvania voters are feeling as we wait for the results to come in.

In no particular order, here are some of their comments:

“I think I’d like a president I can trust because I know who s/he is and I can feel that they really are a human being trying to do their best inside the road they have to walk. … [After seeing the candidates in person] I did feel- and found this surprising – that Hillary was very personable and a bit more than just a good actress. It did seem like there really was something there that I hadn’t seen before, and that quite intrigued me. Also, the personality I saw inside here at this forum was very different than the one I had in my head to represent her so that intrigued and challenged my schema a bit. Obama was received with such enthusiasm and excitement and also answered well in what must have been a new experience for him. However, he seemed – and this may only be due to legitimate tiredness, Lord knows these candidates are run off their feet – to equivocate more and feel the need to clarify/defend him self. He wasn’t quite as open as I would have expected him of all people to be.”

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“Experience aside, McCain’s plan for America is realistic, unlike his opponents, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, who seem to believe that the country’s problems can be solved with outrageous government spending on programs like national and universal health care, which are doomed to fall into disrepair and result in low-quality care, like they have in the countries which currently tout these programs.”

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“I haven’t been following the race as much as I should be, although with the publicity surrounding the primaries here at college, it’s getting a lot easier to do so. At this point, I’m still unclear about who I am supporting, but it will definitely be a Democrat. Both candidates, I feel, have very strong points. The points that interest me about Clinton are her environmental and agricultural reform ideas and health care issues; as for Obama, I like his plans to reduce oil/Carbon emissions (although long term, it needs to be done, as long as there are other, affordable alternatives) and his overall vigor on the campaign trail. Regardless of who I vote for within this party, however, I know it will make a great change in history as a whole. With one Democratic candidate being female, and the other African American, either way, there is a great chance that a so-called “minority” can win the 2008 presidential election. And in my personal opinion, I think that is amazing that they’re finally getting a chance to have their voices heard.”

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“I think as of right now I am supporting McCain. I am a member of the Green Party … but was/am willing to vote either Democrat or Republican. I think the person best for the job should be elected. McCain has shown the same values I have on topics like abortion, and gun control. However, I do not think Obama would be a horrible president either. Clinton seemed a bit wishy-washy to me on some of the important topics. I will vote here at school, if possible. I have not been following the primaries but I have done some basic research on each of the candidates.”

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“I know the race has been a tight one between Hillary and Obama and while I’ve been following them closely, I’m a registered Republican and therefore, can’t vote for either. I agree with McCain’s plan for competitive health care over the universal health care system, but I don’t think McCain will bring enough change to the country as we need. Hillary, on the other hand, does have great plans for change and Barack seems to be leading a very ambiguous campaign, which I’m not in favor of. I know that the fact Hillary is a woman and Barack is of African American descent, but I don’t see why these are big issues when race and ethnicity play no part in the decisions that need to be made while in office. I’ve said several times that I’d rather vote for a president when I know his/her flaws than somebody where I don’t know where they stand. I know the primary is tomorrow and I will end up voting for McCain, but I am very anxious to see what the turnout will be come November.”

When I was a sophomore in college (as PunditGirl would say, “back in the olden days, mommy?”), a handful of my friends were not nearly as focused or well-informed on campaign politics. Whatever happens in the 2008 election, I hope that my niece and her friends will stay this active and informed. I’ll feel a lot better if they’re paying this much attention to the country and its politics when I’m gumming my oatmeal at the nursing home!

Cross-posted from MOMocrats, where we’re all on pins and needles to see what happens in Pennsylvania.