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College Democrats, Republicans look back on campaigns

Janice Flynn | Wednesday, November 3, 2004

College Democrats gathered at Reckers’ Tuesday night, surrounded by Kerry/Edwards posters, sporting blue T-shirts and political stickers. The group of nearly 50 students could have been mistaken for television political analysts, scrutinizing precincts and debating the early returns. “We don’t know anything yet,” said co-president Colin Taylor reminded everyone early in the night. Over the past year, they have been to Ohio, Michigan, Iowa, Massachusetts, Tennessee and back again, keeping up with the frenetic pace of the campaign trail and doing their part to get out the Democratic vote. But while most College Democrats sat glued to their TVs while at the same time celebrating their months of commitment, others were still out on the road.On Monday night, a handful traveled back to Toledo, Ohio, where College Democrats had been over the weekend. They greeted Senator Kerry at a midnight airport rally and helped with the Election Day voting effort.Another group offered their help in Michigan. In South Bend, students were shuttled back and forth from campus to the Joe Donnelly campaign headquarters.For Helen Adeosun, the field coordinator for the Donnelly campaign at Notre Dame, Election Day culminated a year of dedication to the local campaign, including a summer internship where she lived with the Donnelly family. “It’s been worth it and so much more,” Adeosun said. “I never saw myself doing so much [in politics] in a million years. I’m really tired, but now I know this is what I want to do.”Most of all, students said they felt proud to have been a part of the political process.”If we win or if we lose, I still feel like I’ve done something that I wanted to do, what was right to do,” College Democrat Co-President Colin Taylor said. “I’m not going to feel less satisfied.” Like Taylor, College Democrats co-president Nicola Bunick agreed. “You hear all this stuff about how Americans don’t care about how the country is governed,” she said. “That’s not been my experience. … The overwhelming majority really tries to make the best choice for their family, for America. It makes me want to do more.”Time on the campaign trail was the most encouraging aspect, students said. “[In] Wisconsin, one woman was telling me about all the attention she felt she was getting this election when she had felt very much ignored in many elections past,” Meghan Hawley said.In Michigan, Blake Jackson took the campaign door-to-door and was followed around by MSNBC crew cameras. Although a few doors were slammed, most families were eager to hear what Kerry had to offer, and others simply complemented their efforts.”One [man] wouldn’t tell me who he was voting for,” Jackson said. “But he did tell me he appreciated what I was doing, so that was cool.”Tuesday marked the first presidential election most college students could vote in, which has had a huge impact on the College Democrats’ level of enthusiasm.”In high school, you spend all day with people who can’t vote, and you can talk about it all you want,” Hawley said. “But you can’t do anything about it.”Co-President Taylor said that students of all political ideologies were invited to the free food and camaraderie in Reckers, despite the obvious Democratic atmosphere.While some students preferred to watch the returns alone because of nerves, the College Democrats expected the substantial turnout.”We’ve all worked on this together, in varying ways,” Taylor said. “So it’s only right that we watch it together.”