Salena Zito

CLEVELAND - Sitting on a platform of temporary risers, a massive American flag covering the wall behind them, three young people anxiously awaited Mitt Romney.

"We drove all the way from Pittsburgh to hear him," said Ryan Shymansky, 18, a high school senior.

Shymansky sat between classmates Sarah Ogren and Colleen Hamilton, all barely able to contain their excitement, despite driving more than 130 miles through hail, high winds and pounding rain to see the guy they want to be the next president.

Ogren said she was impressed with the former Massachusetts governor's economic plan -- yes, she read it -- but was really impressed by how he makes decisions: "He leads with his conscience, not with religion."

Media stereotypes are created mainly because it is an easy way to give a very large audience a snapshot-understanding of behavior or people.

When it pertains to young people being excited about politics, we usually assume they must support Barack Obama.

Enthusiastic young people driving for hours to see a presidential candidate is not a phrase typically associated with Romney or campaign rivals Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich.

It might be associated with Ron Paul. Yet, even then, an asterisk is placed with Paul supporters, labeling them as outcasts.

Obama supporters enjoy a rosier image, portrayed as idealistic hipsters struggling to survive as part of the "99 percent" disenfranchised by an elite 1 percent.

Now for a different take on young attitudes, from Columbus' German Village: "Just an FYI, we close in two-minutes" is not the greeting you'd expect walking into a crowded coffee shop, its patrons clustered at tables playing Scrabble or surfing shiny Macs.

Dressed in the hipster uniform of woolen cap, skinny jeans and a plaid button-down shirt with a vintage T-shirt strategically in view, the young man was clearly annoyed that he had to wait on another person so near to closing time.

Realizing he was talking to two reporters covering Ohio's primary election, the less-than-personable barista blurted out that he supports Obama.

"I graduated from Ohio State in 2009 in communications, couldn't get a job, so I started working here," he said of his coffee-shop gig. "I haven't really looked since, just kind of never left."

He blames Wall Street, not Obama, for the lack of jobs. He plans to move to San Diego, to bartend and live near the beach.


Salena Zito

Salena Zito is a political analyst, reporter and columnist.