Have your children ever influenced your perception of or decision on politics, religion, sexuality, an automobile purchase or even just a vacation? April 8, 2008 Young Obama Backers Twist Parents Arms By JAN HOFFMAN The daily phone calls. The midnight e-mail. And, when college lets out, those dinner table declamations? Oh, please. Senator Barack Obamas devotees just wont give their parents a break. As the race for the Democratic presidential nomination continues, youthful volunteers for each candidate have been campaigning with bright-eyed brio, not only door-to-door but also at home. But the young supporters of Mr. Obama, who has captured a majority of under-30 primary voters, seem to be leading in the pestering sweepstakes. They send their parents the latest Obama YouTube videos, blog exhortations and Tell Your Mama/Vote for Obama! bumper stickers Megan Simpson, a Penn State senior, had not been able to budge her father, a Republican. But the day before the deadline for registering for the coming Democratic primary in Pennsylvania, she handed him the forms and threw in a deal-sweetener as well. I said, Dad, if you change your party affiliation in time to vote for Obama, recalled Ms. Simpson, 22, an Obama campus volunteer, I will get you the paperwork the day after the primary if you want to switch back to being a Republican. Thus did Ralph E. Simpson Jr., 50, construction company owner, become a newly minted Democrat. I probably will switch my affiliation back, Mr. Simpson said, but I havent decided who I will vote for in the general election. If Meg keeps working on me, who knows? No poll has counted Obama supporters who made their choice at the urging of their children. But combined exit polls for all the primaries so far (excluding Florida and Michigan) show that Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton has edged out Mr. Obama, 50 percent to 46 percent, among voters ages 45 to 64 those who are old enough, and then some, to be the parents of Mr. Obamas young supporters. But even politicians are mentioning the persuasiveness of their children, either in earnest or as political cover, as a factor in their Obama endorsements. That list of Democrats includes Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Gov. Jim Doyle of Wisconsin, Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas and Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota. While politicians inevitably invoke children and the future, rarely have the political preferences of children themselves carried much weight with their elders. On the contrary: when baby boomer parents were the age their children are now, the ideological and social gap between generations was more pronounced. Parents were, by definition, authoritarian. Their children were, by definition, anti-. But the sharp distinctions between generations have eroded. Parents now are exponentially more entwined with their offspring, inclined to place their childrens emotional well-being ahead of their own. Even when students live away at college, many parents call them and send text messages every day. The Obama campaign was well positioned to capitalize on this veritable seamlessness. From the outset, Mr. Obama eagerly sought out young voters with his Internet operation and a widespread, efficient campus network. Those efforts are paying off: in all Democratic primaries to date (excluding Florida and Michigan), about 6 in 10 voters under age 30 have supported him, according to exit polls conducted by Edison/Mitofsky. For some waffling primary voters, the relentless push by their children was good enough reason to capitulate. Eager to encourage their offsprings latest enthusiasm, they have been willing to toss up their hands and vote for Mr. Obama, if only to impress their children. Our kids are probably more precious to us than any previous generation of parents, said Dan Kindlon, a Harvard child psychologist. We have fewer of them, were relativists, and were more swayed by them. A lot of parents are a little afraid of their kids. For many parents, this campaign season also feels like a fond flashback: in their childrens unvarnished idealism, many see a resurrection of their own youthful political passions. Its something you can brag to your friends about, said Professor Kindlon, who writes about child-rearing and adolescents. My kid is involved in politics. Donna Wall, 50, an elementary school teacher from Roanoke Rapids, N.C., had been a supporter of Mrs. Clinton. But her son, Drew, 21, a college student and Obama volunteer, would not let up until his mother switched allegiances for the coming primary. Im glad theyre interested in something other than their own self-interest and partying, Mrs. Wall said. Curtis Gans, a staff director of Eugene J. McCarthys 1968 campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, pointed out that the youthful enthusiasm in this primary did resemble that of 40 years ago. But he said that while Mr. McCarthys temporary success was largely due to the support of college students and middle-class mothers, they had been aroused more by the issue of the Vietnam War than by the candidates charisma. People are enthused by the fact that young people are engaged and excited again, said Mr. Gans, director of the Center for the Study of the American Electorate at American University. They think thats really healthy, and theyd like to sustain it. But at this point, it is temporary and it is about Obama. Theres no telling whether these youthful importunings on Mr. Obamas behalf will tip the balance for the nomination, or follow him into the general election should he be nominated. Certainly Mrs. Clinton is not without her own fresh-faced vanguard. Rachel Mattson, 18, a freshman at Wellesley, called her mother, Michelle, in Memphis daily, pressing her to vote for Mrs. Clinton in the Tennessee primary. I dont see a huge difference between the two candidates, said Michelle Mattson, 45. But Rachel never let it go. Youll be sitting at the dinner table for an hour going over this stuff! Her enthusiasm and what it means to her inspired me. She voted for Mrs. Clinton. While Mrs. Clinton has a national network of student volunteers, Mr. Obamas network is far more extensive. Web sites like Kids for Obama and YrMomma4Obama urge youngsters to talk up the candidate to their parents. The two adult sons of Governor Doyle, 62, both black and both adopted, spoke to him with fervor about Mr. Obamas vision of a multiracial country. Then Mr. Doyles young grandson piled on. Article continued here.