NPR’s Linda Wertheimer, known for folksy political chats with regular Americans in diners and break rooms across the nation, visited Charlottesville recently to talk to locals about how the ages of the two presidential candidates might affect their votes. The segment, which aired last night on All Things Considered, featured a visit to the Senior Center—to talk to, well, seniors—and another stop at UVA’s Sorensen Institute, to catch up with the college crowd.
After an introduction touting Charlottesville’s "graceful colonnaded buildings" and "rich cultural opportunities" (including, we can only assume, this newspaper), Wertheimer talked to several seniors who seem to be leaning toward McCain. It’s that old "experience" argument: Sheryl Kramer was impressed with McCain’s war story, while Mara Evans was a bit lost now that the experienced Hillary Clinton is no longer a choice. Paul Stit, though, liked Obama’s relatively young age. He would be 47 at inauguration, which Stit called "ideal": "I started my own company at 38, and that’s when you have the most vim and vigor and energy," he said.
Over at the Sorensen Center, Wertheimer found evidence that youthfulness matters to youth. Matt Ridges, a William & Mary student, told Wertheimer that a young women next to him in the crowd at an Obama event actually fainted from excitement. Another student, Joanna Eppenberger, worried that "someone said [McCain] can’t really lift his arms." This generational bias didn’t translate to a terribly clear discussion of policy, though: Duke student Matt Ogren offered that "I think that’s what [Obama] means by change is that it’s time for a new generation, it’s time for an older guard to step aside and for young people who don’t see those battles as that important and really want just pragmatic, good government."
Wertheimer wrapped up the piece by reminding listeners that the last time Virginia went for a Democratic presidential candidate was 1964.