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Early January Date May Freeze Iowa State U. Students Out Of Caucus

This story was written by Ross Boettcher, Iowa State Daily
Unless Iowa State University students are staying in Ames or planning a return trip for the new Republican caucus date on Jan. 3, 2008, there's a good chance most people at Iowa State won't be participating in the 2008 caucuses.

Although the Democratic Party has not yet set a caucus date, its speculated date, Jan. 5, also takes place when school is not back in session from Winter Break.

This may not seem like a big deal to some, but candidates such as Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., who are counting on strong support from the college-age population may lose some of the foothold they currently hold in the state of Iowa.

James McCormick, professor and chairman of political science, said he thinks the date change will deter student support during the caucus process.

"I think it will reduce the number of student participants," McCormick said. "I think Obama has shown the most support on the Democratic side among the students, so I think that may have some impact on his turnout."

McCormick said the movement of other states on the primary calendar has forced Iowa to change the dates of its caucuses.

"I anticipate they [Democrats] will move it up either to January 3 or a day around there just to maintain the first-in-the-nation caucus status given the movement on the calendar by other states," McCormick said.

Stephanie Lichter, president of ISU College Republicans and junior in political science, said other problems students may face is a lack of interest after all of the intense campaigning and competition between candidates and the parties.

"I think there will be a lot of voter burnout," Lichter said. "People are going to be sick of the campaigns starting so early with having the caucus that early. People are going to get really sick of it really soon."

Lichter said the biggest issue facing student participation was overall location, not just the fact that school won't be in session.

"I think that it [participation] will hurt a little bit at least in the area of students being there," Lichter said. "It really just depends on how far away students are."

Since 1972, the Iowa caucus has been an early indicator in the presidential nomination process. With Iowa State, the University of Iowa and University of Northern Iowa all presenting large populations of voters, McCormick said students are just one of many factors being taken into consideration when these dates are being set.

"I anticipate that they take a number of factors into consideration when setting the caucus dates," McCormick said.

A representative from ISU Democrats could not be reached for comment.

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