Kansas University senior John Schwartz drew inspiration from the response to a voter registration drive on campus, where business has been brisk among students eager to influence the 1992 presidential race.
"We signed up 232 in one day," said Schwartz, standing last week near a line of 15 students registering so they can help shape the nation's destiny.
"I remember 1988, with Bush and Dukakis, and there wasn't this much interest," he said. "There are about 30 million people in the 18- to 24-year-old age group. In a presidential election we could be the swing vote."
Schwartz has discovered there are plenty of students on campus who defy stereotypes of being too self-absorbed or apathetic to participate in politics.
"For the first time in a long time even the Democratic National Convention was interesting to watch," said Schwartz of Topeka, who will vote for Democrat Bill Clinton.
On the other side of the political fence, KU senior Carol Pfaff of Hesston thinks it's her duty to rally peers to support Republican George Bush's re-election bid.
"YOUNG people must realize this is an important election in terms of their future," she said.
In a random survey of 10 KU students, most of the students indicated they were interested in this presidential election because of instability in the nation's economy. They worry about landing a good job after graduation.
"The future with Republicans right now appears pretty bleak. I've got friends who graduated college and can't find jobs," said Jeff Baker, a Kansas City, Mo., junior who has staffed a Clinton-Gore information table on campus.
Eight of 10 students interviewed said they plan to vote Nov. 3.
Five intend to support Clinton. Three will help Bush try to hold the White House another four years. None favored independent candidate Ross Perot.
One of the 10 was undecided. And one student, John Masheter of Fairway, doesn't plan to vote.
"I don't feel strongly about a candidate," said Masheter, a 34-year-old part-time student. "If Clinton were elected I don't think it would make that much difference."
Eric Madden, a sophomore from Ellinwood, hasn't made up his mind. The presidential debates, the first of which is tonight, will help him decide.
"I'VE LEANED both ways so far. A lot of people base their decision only on party affiliation. I'm trying to look at both sides," he said.
Scot Hill, a Wichita sophomore, said the thought of Clinton as president "scares me to death."
"We're talking about a man who has no problem raising taxes," Hill said. "I don't think we'll see President Bush raise taxes again."
Hill said Bush shouldn't be blamed for the nation's economic problems. The president's experience in foreign affairs and devotion to family values make him the better candidate, Hill said.
Pfaff, another Bush devotee, opposes Clinton because she believes he would greatly expand the federal government's intrusion into Americans' lives.
"This is a philosophical difference between Bush and Clinton. Bush has put forward a plan for deregulation, less government control. Clinton has been leaning . . . to more centralized government," she said.
Jose Urdaneta, a Lawrence senior, voted for Bush in 1984. He vowed not to do it again.
"I'M GOING to vote for Clinton, not necessarily because I believe he is outrageously qualified, but from a process of elimination," he said.
Urdaneta said he thinks Clinton will do more to address economic, environmental and Hispanic issues.
Also on the Clinton bandwagon is Matt Logan, a Topeka graduate student. Although Logan voted for Democrats Walter Mondale in 1984 and Michael Dukakis in 1988, it was Clinton's selection of Sen. Al Gore as a running mate that made the difference to him.
"Gore seems to recognize what we need to do to solve environmental problems. We need to balance economics and the environment," Logan said.
Lawrence senior Jason McIntosh said the country needs to move in a new political direction.
"There is a lot of political division in this country," McIntosh said. "People need to stop blaming others for the nation's problems. Bush just blames Congress. They're not without blame, but it's time to work together."
He said policy gridlock in Washington might be broken if Clinton wins the presidency and Democrats maintain a majority in the House and Senate.