College Political Groups React to Election

By Joe Flaherty

The 2012 election may be over, but the College Democrats and College Republicans are already looking ahead. On Nov. 6 the two clubs hosted Election Night at the Grille to watch the results come in.

“It was packed – there were so many people, which was great. I think [Professor of Political Science and Department Chair] Matthew Dickinson and [Associate Professor of Political Science] Bert Johnson were on top of their game,” said Emily Wagman ’13, president of the College Democrats. “I think they called the election before CNN did.”

Dunja Jovicic ’13, co-president of the College Republicans also thought the event went well.

“Good outcome, good energy, so I think it went well in terms of an event put on by both groups,” she said.

Wagman said the atmosphere in the Grille was exciting.

“It was great to see so many people politically involved, right at the very end,” said Wagman. “A consistent group of people show up at meetings every week and phone bank and go canvassing but it was amazing to see the amount of people that showed up to watch the election results come in.”

When asked about the much-lauded “ground game” of the Obama campaign and their strength in getting people out to vote, Wagman said, “Looking back on this in the future, [the] ’08 and this campaign are both going to be looked at as very good get-out-the-vote strategies. The campaign really was on top of everything, especially in the swing states.”

Wagman also said the results contradicted the notion that Obama’s young supporters would not turn out to vote a second time around.

“Turnout among the youth was higher,” said Wagman, “Which, I think, shows that [an] enthusiasm gap wasn’t really there.”

Looking forward, Wagman said the Democrats are going to continue hosting events and talking policy.

“We’ll bring professors in to talk about different kinds of policy and what policy coming out of a second Obama term might look like. I think we are going to try to bring in some outside speakers as well. It’ll be mostly on campus, a little more quiet.”

Wagman said the Democrats will continue to do voter contact in the future as they did during this election cycle. After all, according to Wagman, “We have a House to take back in 2014.”

Jovicic said the Republicans will also work to promote political dialogue on campus.

“The main goal of both groups is to engage in discourse and promote that kind of discussion on campus and keep awareness up and have an outlet for students on campus who are politically active or would like to be,” said Jovicic.

The Republicans also are going to bring speakers to campus, including Middlebury alumni.

“We had both John MacGovern ‘80 and Randy Brock ’65 come in,” said Jovicic. “We’ll try to keep bringing conservative speakers to campus, so I encourage, whatever you believe in, to listen because it’s interesting to get another perspective.”

Like the College Democrats, Jovicic said the College Republican’s pace will slow drop that the election is over.

“It might slow down a little bit just because [the presidential election] was the big thing this year,” said Jovicic, “but we just keep having our weekly meetings [and] keep awareness up.”

The College Republicans also will be keeping on eye on future GOP presidential contenders.

“The GOP is already looking towards 2016, so we’ll probably be following up on what they’re doing, who could be the major players, who are we looking to to represent the Republican Party in 2016,” said Jovicic.

Overall, Jovicic said she hopes for political discourse on campus to be more open to learning both sides.

“The more you keep your eyes and ears open the more you realize that there are conservatives on campus who really do care about the subject matter.”

In regard to President Obama’s re-election, Jovicic said, “As a club and as individuals we’re obviously a little disappointed but I don’t think it’ll stifle our involvement on campus. It’s just a reason to keep looking towards who’s going to represent us in 2016. Obviously it’s not the outcome that we wanted but we’ll still be a club and still engage with the Democrats and bring speakers on both sides and keep that discourse up.”