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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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    Political Clubs On Campus Gear Up For Election

    With the election one day away, members of political clubs at Stony Brook University can soon unwind after a busy semester mounting grassroots campaigns on and off campus.

    This semester the College Democrats on campus worked the phones, knocked on thousands of doors and even crossed state lines to drum up votes for national and local politicians.

    They also carried out a successful voter registration campaign on campus, registering 1,524 students — the most student voters of all 63 College Democrat chapters in New York, according to Adam Peck, secretary of the College Democrats.

    The College Democrats registered most of the students at tables near the Student Activities Center, including 700 at the Involvement Fair held on Sept. 17. They registered an additional 500 student voters by knocking on student’s doors during a five-week dorm storming campaign, Peck said.

    The Stony Brook College Republicans drafted a different political blueprint this election season, and the group chose not to hold voter registration drives.

    “With the many registration drives on campus, our club opted to not focus on this activity and to rather devote our resources to local campaigns,” said Jonathan Pu, vice president of the College Republicans.

    The group’s strategy called for supporting Lee Zeldin, the 28-year-old Army veteran and lawyer who is challenging incumbent Rep. Tim Bishop in New York’s 1st congressional district.

    Voter demographics and state politics shaped both of these club’s activities. In a recent Harvard poll, Sen. Barack Obama held a 23-point lead over Sen. John McCain among 18 to 24-year-old voters. This lopsided support, coupled with Obama’s 30-point lead in New York as reported by a recent Yahoo.com poll, galvanized the College Democrats this semester, while forcing the College Republicans out of the presidential race.

    “It is unwise and a poor allocation of our resources to attempt to elect McCain in this state,” Pu said. “It is a far better plan to tackle the Congressional election since we have an inherent advantage there.”

    But this semester, the College Republicans faced an uphill battle. While Republican voters outnumber Democratic ones in Bishop’s district, political analysts call Zeldin an underdog. Though no district polls have been conducted, the Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan online newsletter, ranks the race as solidly Democratic.

    Still, the College Republicans worked closely with the Zeldin campaign, devoting hours during weekends and some weekdays to make phone calls, send out mailings and put out flyers, Pu said.

    The College Democrats supported Bishop this semester by handing out educational flyers and talking to students at Campus Lifetime events, Peck said.

    Often, the Brookhaven Town Democratic Committee buttressed these efforts.

    “They do a really good job of sending supporters from the community on campus to help us out with all of our events,” Peck said. “They bring a lot of those informational flyers on Obama, and also [Brian] Foley and Tim Bishop.”

    The College Democrats looked at the big picture by supporting Foley, who is running for a district outside of the university’s.

    Statewide Senate races are tense, and a Foley victory could help upend 40 years of Republican control in the New York state Senate. Senate Republicans currently hold a slim two-vote majority, and a victory by Foley could shake Albany’s power structure.

    The College Democrats are a part of the swarm of students energized by Obama’s campaign.

    Groups comprising young voters, like Students for Obama, have held thousands of events supporting the Democratic nominee this election season, according to MyBarackObama.com, an online community for grassroots organizations.

    On Oct. 3 and 4, the College Democrats took a bus to northwest Philadelphia to make phone calls and knock on doors, and on Oct. 11 it went to Bloomsburg, Penn., to knock on over 2,000 doors for the Obama campaign, according to Peck.

    Since Jun. 1, grassroots campaigns have made over 3 million phone calls and knocked on over 1.5 million doors in this battleground state, said Ellen Mellody, Obama’s northeastern Pennsylvania spokeswoman on the website Politickerpa.com.

    During the final week of the election, both political clubs remained active. The College Republicans stepped up their campaigning for Zeldin with more mailing and phone calls.

    “We are currently bringing out more people and putting in more hours since this is the last big push and the amount of campaigning you do in the last weeks before the election can make or break the election,” said Pu, before the final week of campaigning.

    The College Democrats have a dorm storm planned for Election night. With the help of 15 members from the Obama 4 Long Island group, the College Democrats will disperse 50 knockers throughout the campus to remind students to vote. They hope this final push will guarantee Obama’s victory at the university.

    “We would love to see Obama win by a huge margin here at Stony Brook,” Peck said.

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