Political Party Choice Reflective Upon Parents

This story was written by Lindsey Meaux, The Daily Reveille


Chris Fogleman is a Republican. His parents are Republicans, and he plans to vote Republican in the presidential election.

I dont think [having Republican parents] is my sole reason for being Republican, said Fogleman, LSU sociology junior. [But] ever since I was a little kid, I heard about it.

Kirby Goidel, director of Public Policy Research and mass communication and political science professor, said the political affiliation of a voters parents is a key determinant in predicting a persons political affiliation. He said in addition to socialization, other factors influencing a persons party affiliation are contextual factors and major events during the persons life.

Goidel said the decisions made by young voters this year will influence the results in future elections.

If Obama gets elected and does a good job as president, [those voters] are likely to vote Obama again, and theyre likely to be Democratic voters in the future, he said.

Young voters are the most easily swayed by context because they havent yet established habits of supporting a certain party, Goidel said.

The most recent Gallup polls, from the week of Oct. 6, indicate 65 percent of 18- to 29-year-old registered voters support Sen. Barack Obama compared to 31 percent who support Sen. John McCain for president.

More than 44 million people ages 18 to 29 are eligible to vote in the upcoming elections, said Stephanie Young, a spokeswoman for Rock the Vote, a campaign encouraging young people to exercise their right to vote.

More than 2.3 million voters have registered through RocktheVote.com, Young said.

Professors have tested ways to gauge student opinions with perception analyzers and a senatorial debate hosted in the heart of the university, and students are constantly bombarded with election information.

Chuck Fontenot, College Republicans president, said college students should vote in elections because the results will affect them for the majority of their lives.

The decisions arent just going to affect [us] for the next four years, he said. Theyre going to effect us for the next 30 to 40 yearsfor the better part of our lives.

Fontenot said college students are a fundamental part of every successful campaign because you cant win an election without a strong grassroots effort, and college students are the main cause of the grassroots machine.

Kevin Guillory, College Democrats president, said students should take Nov. 4 as an opportunity to voice any issues they have with the government.

Its important to vote because thats the voice we have in our government, Guillory said. If you have problems, then its your opportunity to voice that.

Rock the Vote has identified the cost of education, future job prospects, the War in Iraq, the state of the economy and health care as the most important issues for young voters, Young said.

Lauren Shaw, psychology senior, said she is undecided about who she will vote for this election.

You like some of what both of the candidates have to offer, she said of her first time being able to vote in a presidential election.

The economy, the War in Iraq and social issues like abortion and gay civil unions are hot-button issues for Shaw. Shaw said she will vote for the person that has specific goals and ways to achieve its goals.

East Baton Rouge Parish has about 138,000 registered Democrats compared to about 75,000 registered Republicans as of Oct. 6, according to voter registration data from the Louisiana Secretary of States Web site.

Orleans Parish had about 187,000 registred Democrats and a little less than 32,000 registered Republicans. Lafayette Parish had nearly 58,000 registered Democrats and nearly 44,000 registered Republicans, according to the Oct. 6 data.

Goidel said Republican Gov. Bobby Jindals victory in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 makes Louisiana unique because the state shifted toward Republican alignment shortly after.

Democrat Kathleen Blanco was elected governor in 2003.

Its not [yet] clear how much it was a shift to the Republican Party versus a shift to Bobby Jindal, he said of the last years gubernatorial election.

Wayne Parent, political science professor, said the university has historically been disproportionately Republican because it tends to draw from areas that are some of the most Republican in Louisiana.

But Parent said younger voters in the South seem to be leaning toward the Democratic side of the spectrum.
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