Youth vote key to N.H. primary win

Some of the Republican presidential candidates are particularly betting on young voters to help them win in New Hampshire.

The latest poll shows Ron Paul, Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman have the most appeal with this group.

CBS News correspondent Chip Reid reports, however, with 25 percent still undecided, there's room for change.

Two days before the primary, the latest Suffolk University tracking poll (PDF) finds Ron Paul (39 percent), Mitt Romney (25 percent), and Jon Huntsman (7 percent) having the most appeal with voters aged 18 to 34.

Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman's economic plan gets rave reviews from Republican Marko Samardzic, a junior at Saint Anselm College in Manchester.

"Jon Huntsman has a bigger plan to rein in the big banks and to get the banks actually lending again."

Samardzic looked hard at former Governor Mitt Romney, but finds him inconsistent even backtracking from his own health reform law in Massachusetts.

"He is a flip flopper. He says one thing one week, and another week he changes, he changes his position," Huntsman said.

Special Section: Campaign 2012

But Greg Perkins, a 27-year-old independent who was recently laid off from Walmart, believes Romney's business background will help him create jobs.

"I got to look for work, and it's hard now," Perkins said.

Four years ago, Perkins supported Barack Obama, like 61 percent of New Hampshire voters under 30.

"I was on the Obama bandwagon when that rolled around. I'll tell you what, point blank: it was a disappointment. I mean, everything that was supposed to happen with the economy being turned around -- the change we needed. What change?" Perkins asked.

No discussion of young voters would be complete without a discussion of Ron Paul. Virtually every event he does has an overflow crowd of young voters. He won the youth vote in Iowa, and he is expected to do the same thing in New Hampshire.

"It's time to try something new, and if it's radical, maybe that's what we need right now," said Zachary Koehler, a Paul supporter and a sophomore at Keene State College.

Koehler said he likes Paul's ideas to eliminate five cabinet departments, slash defense spending, and bring the troops home.

"I love his foreign policy, because I have this saying if you stick your nose in other people's business enough, you're gonna get punched eventually," Koehler said.

"Personal liberty and economic liberty are one in the same!" Paul has said to cheering crowds.

It's Paul's spirited defense of civil liberties that inspires 24-year-old Sarah Wood.

"I love personal liberties, I love freedom, I love an unopposing, unoppressing government," Wood said.

Four years ago, a record number (43 percent) of New Hampshire voters under age 30 turned out for the primary. This year they are, once again, poised to play a major role.

  • Chip Reid

    Chip Reid is CBS News' national correspondent.

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