Super Tuesday: Scenes From The Ground

Our Power of 12 team hit three crucial states in search of young voters.

BOSTON — MTV News' Power of 12 hit the ground in Boston early on Super Tuesday to meet young Republican voters in a state best known for Democratic politicians like Kerry and the Kennedys. We didn't know what to expect, and what we found was ... not much.

Voter turnout was horrendous in Mitt Romney's home state among all voters — with only 6 percent turning out to cast ballots in Boston as of 6 p.m. — but seemingly most among young voters.

After visiting the campuses of UMass Boston and Boston University, a local elections officials told me that turnout at noon was 2.5 percent citywide, a puny number by anyone's standards. The young voters we did meet were Democrats, independents or Libertarians — no Republicans — and all were supporting Congressman Ron Paul or President Obama in an uncontested primary.

After striking out looking for young voters at Northeastern and Harvard Universities, we headed to Mitt Romney's home neighborhood of Belmont, where he voted and afterward told me that he wants to "save the future" for young people, which MTV News producer Adam Murphy pointed out sounded like something out of a "Terminator" film.

Later in the evening, at Romney election-night headquarters at the Westin Copley Square, we met the first young Republicans of the day. Asked what "saving the future" meant, attendee Sally Geary said "insuring economic stability and growth for our country and making a better world for our young people to grow up in."

Is saving the world as easy as that, I asked? "It's definitely as easy as that." — Jacob Soboroff

COLUMBUS, Ohio — I leave Ohio realizing that Governor Romney is probably the big winner tonight. But a larger question for many young people I spoke with today is his sincerity.

Although he answered our own MTV Power of 12 team member J‪acob Soboroff's question (and props to Jacob for getting that!), many of the Ohio State University students I spoke to today raised questions about the former Massachusetts governor's authenticity.

Their overwhelming answer? We want Ron Paul instead.

Brian Bode told me something that I heard throughout the day from several young people who cast ballots: They wouldn't even vote in this primary, or general election, if it were not for Libertarian hell-raiser and notorious straight-shooter Ron Paul.

In many ways, this Ron Paul fervor reminded me of what we saw with Barak Obama in 2008. (And, in fact, a number of those voters I've met on the road said they had turned to Paul after becoming disillusioned with Obama over the past three years.)

From what I have learned through my election travels so far, and reinforced today in Ohio, is the idea that our generation has grown up in a world with greater transparency than ever before. We have archived our lives through Facebook and Twitter and have an unusually astute perception of whether we are being told the truth, if it's reality TV or politics.

As a result, we strongly believe, almost subconsciously, that if we are taking part in politics, as we did in record numbers in 2008, it is only because we believe we have the power to enforce real change.

Ron Paul, like then-Senator Obama, has a message that is about foundational change. Young Americans look for that, and the millennial generation will especially look for this in years to come.

I went into Ohio thinking about Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney (running neck-and-neck at press time). And I was largely right: Currently, Ron Paul only has about 9 percent of the votes in Ohio, far behind the other three candidates, which may mean that although there is a dense population of Paul supporters here, it may not be enough to make any sort of real dent.

But I leave knowing that Paul, one way or another, will find a way to stay in this race and continue to energize young voters. — Andrew Jenks

ATLANTA — As a Southern girl, returning to my homeland to cover the Super Tuesday shenanigans in the Peach State has been a welcome whirlwind. From the Chick-Fil-A biscuit breakfast at the empty Georgia Tech Student Center polling place this morning to the open bar (I did not partake because I'm professional like that) at the fancy-schmancy Renaissance Hotel where I witnessed Newt Gingrich committing to a whole new quest for Obama domination (and moon colonization) — there's no denying that today has been a political par-tay!

But did Georgia's youth know they were invited? Did the Republicans even ask them to RSVP?

One man definitely did, although it didn't make much difference in the end, as Newt's roots run deep in the rural Peach State. We heard a ton about Ron Paul from young supporters in Georgia. The most eloquent defense came from the young Libertarians who spoke of the Texas congressman as if he were their own rock-star grandpa at a meeting of the College Republicans on Georgia Tech's campus on Monday night before the vote-counting madness began.

We hit Georgia Tech at the break of dawn today to check out the polling place action (or lack thereof), and the highlight had to be chatting with power pals Thaddeus and Briana before parting ways with the Yellow Jacket campus for the urban amazingness that is Georgia State University.

It was like being on collegiate LSD walking into the hot mess of the GSU quad on its busy "strollin' " day — where stepping is a must — and it was the perfect setting to unpack how non-GOP go-getters were putting their power on display on a day reserved for Republican revelry. Kendra Kelly of the Young Democrats and Alison Fox from Students for Sensible Drug policy not only demonstrated why girls run the world, but also how withholding your vote can be just as powerful a message as giving it away.

What to do next? Crash a class, of course. I barged into a fairly packed Principles of Marketing class to take an informal poll of the youth zeitgeist at GSU. I listened as students gave the real talk — Newt is "economically dumb," Mitt's flip-flopping ain't that bad, all the Republicans can take a hike when it comes to women's rights and more.

Now I'm furiously typing in this cheesy lobby to the sound of "NEEEEEEEWT!" ricocheting off the marble as supporters file out of his victory party in cowboy hats and sequin dresses. "Lawdamercy!" as my grandma would say, it's been a day and a half. I've seen apathy and engagement, ignorance and intelligence — and since this Republican race is gonna drag on for quite awhile, young people will have plenty more opportunities to show their power in 2012. It's gonna be real, y'all. — Becca Frucht

MTV had Super Tuesday covered, with reporters on the scene in Georgia, Ohio and Massachusetts! Stick with Power Of 12 throughout the presidential election season for more from the ground.