Although the official numbers aren't in yet, those who obsess over such things say that the youth vote was out in full force yesterday and might prove to have been the key to Barack Obama's presidential victory. Polls on and near college campuses saw significantly more voters than past presidential elections, while exit polls show that young voters preferred Obama over John McCain approximately 2 to 1—the highest share of the youth vote obtained by any candidate since pollsters started recording such data in 1976.
That surge in interest may explain the bursts of excitement mirrored in college towns nationwide. While most student Democrats cheered and celebrated at viewing parties both small and large, students at the University of Wisconsin, the University of Michigan, UC-Berkeley, the University of Minnesota, the University of Pennsylvania , and Penn State took to the streets to march, chant, sing, wave American flags, bang pots and pans, and overall cause gleeful ruckus. "Rosa sat, so King could walk, so Barack could run, so we as a people could fly," said one Penn State student through tears. "This is history right now."
Meanwhile at Stanford, students gathered and started an impromptu bonfire. And hundreds of Georgetown and George Washington students left the comfort of indoors to rush the White House, all the while chanting, "Yes we did!" "USA!" and "O-ba-ma!" and singing—presumably to the Bush administration—"Na na na na, na na na na, hey hey hey. Goodbye."
Of course, not every student was happy about the night's outcome. McCain supporters were somber. At Baylor , Obama signs were burnt in a fire pit in protest, while a verbal altercation of some sort (details are sketchy) was monitored by campus police after the election was called.