Will young voters have an impact?

Four student voters leave the polling place at 36th and Chestnut Streets in University City. (Jonathan Tannenwald/Philly.com)

Jonathan Tannenwald reports:

Last year, the polling place at 36th and Chestnut was one of the city's quietest on Election Day.

Situated at the northern end of the Penn campus, it is home to two districts -- the 3rd and 11th -- in the ward which registered one of the smallest voter turnouts anywhere in the city in the 2007 mayoral primary.

Of 9,348 registered voters in the 27th ward, only 1,866 cast a ballot last May. That was the fourth-lowest vote total out of the city's 66 wards.

That happened in part because Penn had already let out for the summer when the primary took place, so there weren't many residents around. But the school also has a high percentage of students from outside the city, and local races haven't resonated too much on campus in recent years.

This year's presidential primary, though, is a different story. I stopped by the Penn Center for Rehabilitation and Care just after noon today, and the line to vote was 12 people deep and full of students.

In the 27th division, 105 out of 977 registered voters had cast a ballot as of 12:20 p.m.. In the 3rd division, 102 out of 776 had done so.

An election official for the 27th Division who I talked to said it was among the largest turnouts she'd ever seen at the polling place.

I've been there a few times in recent years and it was the first time I'd ever seen a line of any kind.

So who are they voting for? Both Democratic candidates have pushed hard to win University City. Barack Obama's campaign has a temporary office at 40th and Chestnut Streets, while Hillary Clinton's speech at the Palestra last night drew a large number of Penn students.

Clinton also made reference to the endorsement she won from the Daily Pennsylvanian last week.

The Daily Pennsylvanian reports today that two-thirds of the Penn student body is registered to vote in Pennsylvania.

But in the current freshman class, only 406 of 1,443 students originally hail from the Keystone state. While that only accounts for a quarter of the undergraduate student body, older classes have been here longer -- and therefore might be more likely to be registered here.

A recent poll by CBS News and the Daily Pennsylvanian found that 73 percent of Penn students were for Barack Obama, with 71 percent of students statewide supporting the Illinois senator.

Another important stat: 86 percent of students polled said they were "likely" to vote today.

Pennsylvania's population is well-known to be older than the national average. But could young voters have a significant impact in this year's primary?