College students in battleground states will likely play a major role in the upcoming presidential election, and according to a recent poll, they have placed their support firmly behind Senator Barack Obama.

Approximately 24,848 students at 49 four-year colleges in Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Carolina and Colorado were polled via e-mail from Oct. 6 to Oct. 19.

The poll was conducted by UWire, a news wire service comprised entirely of college and university newspapers, including The Hoya, in conjunction with CBS News and The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Choosing a Candidate

Obama outpolled Senator John McCain in five out of six categories.

When asked which candidate they could relate to, which candidate would bring about real change, which candidate cares about people like themselves, and which candidate would improve the image of the United States abroad, students overwhelmingly chose Obama.

When asked which candidate would make a more effective commander in chief, however, 66 to 70 percent of students responded John McCain was the better choice.

Overall, between 61 and 67 percent of students polled said they will vote for Obama for president.

Adult Voters

While a majority of students said they were supporting the same candidate as their parents, Obama is polling more than 10 points higher among college-aged voters than with adult voters. According to a poll of polls conducted by RealClearPolitics.com on Monday, 50.5 percent of adult voters said they plan to vote for Obama, giving him a 7.3-point lead over McCain. According to the UWire poll, Obama is polling between 26 and 38 points higher than McCain among college-aged voters.

The Stakes

Students polled agree the stakes are particularly high for the election this year, as students rank the economic crisis and the war in Iraq among their top concerns.

Approximately 80 percent of students say it matters who is elected president, but only half reported thinking the government cares “somewhat” about their generation.

Three-quarters of students said the economy and jobs were “extremely important” in determining their vote, while half considered the war in Iraq and education to be vital, and over half of all students reported Obama has the best plan to deal with the issues that are most significant to them.

No students rated the economy as “very good,” while 92 to 94 percent rated it some degree of “fairly bad” to “very bad,” and less than half of students accounted believing their opportunities to succeed were better than their parents, and half said they were only “somewhat confident,” about their job prospects.

When asked about the war in Iraq, a majority of students said they would only be willing to keep troops in Iraq for a maximum of two more years.

Voting for the First Time

Seventy-five percent of students polled reported that their first vote was either during the primaries or will be in next Tuesday’s election.

Between 93 and 95 percent of students in the four states say they are registered to vote, and between 82 and 91 percent say they will definitely vote in the upcoming election.

Students in these states are also embracing the opportunity to vote in a battleground state, at least 50 percent of students said they opted to vote in person and have their vote count in the state where they go to school, rather than by absentee ballot.

Because college students have the option to vote in either their home state or the state where they go to school, colleges in battleground states have led massive efforts to encourage students to register to vote.

In North Carolina, 69 percent of students said they were contacted by school-sponsored voter registration programs. In Pennsylvania, that number rose to 76 percent.

Over half of students in all four states reported being directly contacted by campaigns.

The Running Mates

While students did not register strong feelings toward Obama’s running mate, Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del), they generally disliked McCain’s running mate, Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin, and over 70 percent said they believe McCain chose her “because he thought she would help him win.”

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