Oct 152008
Authors: Johnny Hart

Amid an unusually frenzied atmosphere at Avo’s Bar on Myrtle St. and Mason St. stood a crowd of college-aged people, many of whom eager to vote in their first presidential election.

As presidential contenders Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., and Sen. John McCain , R-Ariz., took jabs in the last debate of the election Wednesday night, bartenders hustled to and fro, serving up drinks to waiting patrons.

Bussers carried empty glasses filled with ice to be washed behind the bar, while waiters and waitresses rushed past to deliver food, ducking below the eyeshot of studious viewers.

One group of patrons abandoned their pool game midway to watch the broadcast, while others played chess and others fact-checked with bar-side laptops.

With Democratic campaign signs littering the front entrance and occasional scowls at McCain’s comments, the crowd was definitely sitting in Obama’s corner.

Avo’s bartender Josh Driver says it’s the busiest he’s seen the joint. Bigger than the Super Bowl — a microcosmic indicator of the resurgence of interested Democratic voters in this state, especially among mobilized young voters.

Evident of a drastic shift in political sentiment, Colorado has become a swing state in this election, hanging significantly on the vote of young, new voters. And they like beer with their politics. These young adults stared up toward each corner of the room, laughing and applauding occasionally as they sipped on their beers and cocktails. In the adjacent room, a commanding big screen projector enveloped a packed crowd of students and community members.

Driver said he hoped to make some good tip money, as he took a break to smoke a cigarette outside of the bar.

“People are re-excited about politics, which hasn’t happened for a long time,” he said.

CSU graduate Kevin Frasure and Hunter Smith, senior natural resource major, stood in the middle of the floor while gazing up at the screen, beers in hand. Both had gathered with a group of friends to watch the debate.

“Most of us are at that age where this election actually matters,” Frasure said.

For many, this election is their first chance to actively engage the day’s important challenges — most prominently, the economy, healthcare and the Iraq War.

In a booth toward the back of the floor sat CSU music graduate student Josh Mather, Fort Collins resident Erin Washington and senior sociology major Julian Stanelle, chatting between gulps of mixed drinks.

A supporter of Obama, Stanelle said he was excited about this presidential election, particularly in comparison to past elections.

“We’ve nominated somebody worth being excited about,” Mather said.

Stanelle said that he was not sure if the apathy among young voters has been eradicated, adding he’d need to wait until after the election to find out.

“I’ve always been interested in politics,” Washington said.

Driver said that interest among young people could be due to the prominence of this current election, comparing the excitement to a “cult movement.”

“It really takes a mass movement to put who you want to see in office in office,” Driver said.

Assistant News Editor Johnny Hart can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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