In stark contrast to last year’s election, on-campus political clubs were generally inactive throughout Election Day yesterday, as the Harvard College Democrats were the only major political group to sponsor a phone campaign and a viewing party.
Last year, various Harvard organizations hosted events throughout Election Day, including the Democrats, the Harvard Republican Club, the Institute of Politics, and the Queer Students and Allies (then known as BGLTSA).
A number of undergraduate political leaders agreed that student interest was dampened this year due to the absence of major elections in all but a handful of states.
“People are generally sort of unaware that it’s Election Day,” said IOP President Mary K. B. Cox ’10. “It’s not even an off-year election, it’s an off-off year since there are only special elections and gubernatorial races.”
Harvard Republican Club President Colin J. Motley ’10 echoed that sentiment, saying, “I think the big difference between this year and last year is that people saw a lot of the races last year as having a direct impact on their lives.”
Harvard College Democrats President Eva Z. Lam ’10 said she agreed that student involvement was muted in this year’s elections, though she added that the Democrats chose to remain active over this election season in order to help maintain the momentum of their presidential victory last November.
“I never expected that people would get as worked up over Jon Corzine as they did over Barack Obama,” Lam said. “But I also think that it’s important for progressives to understand that you can’t just win one presidential election and have Obama wave a magic wand and make everything better.”
The Democrats sponsored their final phone bank yesterday evening in Adams House, with about fifteen volunteers rallying support in the gubernatorial races in New Jersey and Virginia as well as the special congressional election in New York and the gay marriage referendum in Maine.
According to Evelyn R. Wenger ‘11, Campaigns Director for the Democrats, the volunteers focused most intensely on the Maine referendum, known as Proposition 1. The Democrats have been teaming up with the QSA to campaign against Prop 1 every Sunday for the past month. “Especially after Prop 8 passed last year and eliminated gay marriage in California, it’s definitely an important race,” Wenger said.
Following the phonebank, the Dems headed to Mather House to watch the election results come in lieu of their regular weekly meeting.
— Staff writer Evan T. R. Rosenman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.