In anticipation of today’s midterm elections, both the University’s chapters of College Democrats and College Republicans took part in political rallies yesterday featuring last minute words from candidates highlighting their visions for the state and encouraging students to turn out at the polls.
The University’s chapter of College Democrats hosted an “Election Eve Rally” at the Michigan Union starting at 11 p.m. last night, which included music and speeches from candidates and their supporters. Earlier in the evening, members of College Republicans rallied at a local Fix Michigan Center, which is a state-wide organization that promotes Republican ideologies and has campaigned for Republican support in the midterm election. Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Snyder spoke at the College Republicans event.
The College Democrats rally featured talks from State Representative Rebekah Warren (D-Ann Arbor), who is currently running for state Senate, Democratic candidate for Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and Debbie Dingell, political activist and wife of United States Rep. John Dingell (D–Mich.), who is currently up for re-election. Democratic candidate for the University’s Board of Regents Paul Brown, Democratic candidate for Attorney General David Leyton and Brenda Lawrence, Democratic candidate for Lieutenant Governor, also spoke at the rally.
The candidates spoke to an almost full Pendleton Room, livening up the crowd and generating cheers from the audience. Dingell spoke about her anger over polls that are already claiming Democrats will lose a larger number of seats across the country.
“Are you outraged like I am about the polls and how everybody thinks the voting started three months ago and everybody writing off what’s going to happen already?” Dingell asked the crowd. “We cannot let that be the story.”
Dingell argued that Republicans who claim President Barack Obama’s administration has failed to help the ailing economy are ignoring the job growth and economic stimulus that has occurred since he took office, when the nation was in a dire state. She said voters must elect Democrats in order to continue propelling Obama’s agenda forward.
“We’ve just begun,” Dingell added. “Are we going to let (the Republicans) go backwards?”
Dingell lauded the importance of community and unity within the Democratic Party and scoffed at Republicans who have tried to create schisms within the party.
“Community is the strength of democracy,” Dingell said. “One of the things that I dislike the most about this election is the way the Republicans have tried to divide us. It’s not right.”
Warren, the state Senate candidate, highlighted the importance of the student vote and encouraged students to use social networking to encourage friends to vote. She said all efforts leading up to tomorrow have “been a practice round” and tomorrow determines which policies will actually be enacted.
“What we do now sets the course for the next decade,” Warren said. “We need a Democrat in the governor’s mansion. We need Congressman John Dingell back in Congress.”
Chair of College Democrats Brendan Campbell said the group’s intention in planning the event was to generate excitement and give students more information about the candidates before they went to vote.
“We thought there’s no better way for students to get excited about voting — and voting for Democrats — than bringing in these candidates onto campus,” Campbell said.
Democratic contenders in this year’s election view student voters as a crucial part in winning their seats, Campbell said, and look at campus events as opportunities to show student voters why they are important to the state and how the Democratic Party aims to serve them.
“They know that students are the key for Democrats to win tomorrow,” Campbell said. “Without student support and the support of young people across the state, Democrats face a much more difficult road.”
Recent polls have shown that Republican candidates in Michigan are expected to win many key offices in the state, most prominent among them is the race for the governor’s mansion that pits Republican candidate Rick Snyder against Democratic candidate Virg Bernero. Campbell said these polls aren’t necessarily accurate because they fail to include student voters, who are often left out because they are believed to have a low tendency to vote in non-presidential elections.
“When you look at polls, you have to recognize a key distinction,” Campbell said, “and that’s that a lot of these polls are using likely voter models that are based off the fact that students and young people will not turn out to vote tomorrow. “
“I think if students come out strong for Democrats like they did in 2008, we’re going to see polls at the end of election night wildly different from the polls right now before the election,” Campbell added.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Snyder and Republican lieutenant governor candidate Brian Calley spoke to College Republicans earlier in the evening. In addition, Republican Secretary of State candidate Ruth Johnson and Republican candidate for Supreme Court Justice Mary Beth Kelly were among those in attendance.
Charles Bogren, chair of the University’s chapter of College Republicans, said the candidates focused their speeches at the rally on how best to fix the issues plaguing the state rather than placing blame on anyone.
“They don’t want to focus on the blame or the problems, they want to focus on the solutions,” Bogren said. “And they were talking about what they’re going to do once they’re in office to fix the state of Michigan, to reinvent the state of Michigan.”
“It’s a really positive message and it’s something they’re going to bring to Lansing in January,” Bogren added.
Bogren said while he supports the College Democrats rally last night and their other get out the vote efforts, he thinks their attempts to garner support are futile as demonstrated by their losing projections the latest political polls.
“I think it’s too little too late for the Democratic ticket,” Bogren said. “It’s great that they’re having a rally, I just think it’s sort of a little party for the end of their campaign because they’re not going any farther.”
Bogren said tomorrow’s election will provide an opportunity for students to elect Republican candidates who will reverse problems he believes were created by the Obama administration. He said an increase in Republican power in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives would be a major step toward re-establishing a more traditional form of government.
“The best way to save our generation, to save our country, is to vote in fiscal conservatives,” Bogren said. “People who want to restore government back to it’s traditional and proper role, which is to stand beside you and help you, not stand in your way and tell you what to do.”
“It should be a great day for Republicans in Ann Arbor and on campus,” Bogren added.