Students respond to election results

Wednesday, November 8, 2006

Members of the Brown Democrats and the College Republicans gathered at opposite ends of campus last night to watch election results roll in, and the moods in Morriss and Barbour lounges were as different as the two locations are distant.

Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse’s victory over Lincoln Chafee ’75 in the Rhode Island Senate race was cause for celebration for the Dems gathered in Morriss Lounge, who learned of the victory at 9:25 p.m.

The Dems campaigned extensively for Whitehouse, and several students came directly to the gathering from volunteer posts at polls around Rhode Island. Emily Kunen ’08 came straight from a five-hour volunteer shift in Warwick. More than 50 members participated in canvassing on Election Day, according to Carly Rush ’08, the Dems’ national politics chair.

“Our work paid off,” said Dems President Tor Tarantola ’08. “It’s a huge victory for Rhode Island, a huge victory for the United States. … That’s what grassroots activism can do.”

Rush said although the Dems devoted special attention to Whitehouse’s campaign, the victory was only possible because “the whole campus worked so hard.”

Voter turnout at the Salomon Center, the polling place for students registered at their 75 Waterman St. campus addresses, was up 14 percent from the 2004 presidential general election, according to Tarantola, who attributed the increase to the Dems’ voter registration and get-out-the-vote efforts. He also credited a general awareness among students of the importance of the Senate race in Rhode Island.

Exit polls reported on CNN indicated that although Whitehouse won the election, 62 percent of voters approve of Chafee’s job performance.

Megha Katti ’08, a member of the Dems, said she is “ecstatic that Whitehouse won because we finally worked on a winning campaign, (and because) he’s another Democratic vote in the Senate.”

Cash McCracken ’08 voiced the sentiment more bluntly. “I like the D next to his name,” he said.

Chafee’s status as a moderate Republican who has voted against President George W. Bush on key issues wasn’t enough to earn him support in Rhode Island. Dems member Sarah Cristy ’07 said although Chafee frequently votes against the Republican Party, “I don’t know that it matters necessarily that much. (Although) he makes an ideological statement,” his vote doesn’t often affect who wins, she said.

In Barbour Lounge, Marc Frank ’09 of the College Republicans lamented that Rhode Island is just “too Democratic a state” for Chafee.

The mood among the Dems only improved as the night wore on and Democrats captured control of the U.S. House of Representatives and almost all statewide seats.

The concession speech of incumbent Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., elicited particularly exuberant cheers. “No one likes Rick Santorum,” Cristy said.

The College Republicans had a different take on the results. The most disappointing part of the night for them was the fact that Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., would likely become Speaker of the House. “That she-devil would spend her time trying to screw President Bush rather than create any useful policy,” said College Republicans President Zack Drew ’07.

McCracken said he was “excited about Madam Speaker … I like the sound of that.”

The Dems were disappointed by the outcomes of only a few races nationwide, including the victory of Sen. Joe Lieberman as an Independent over Democratic nominee Ned Lamont in Connecticut.

Tarantola said he was “very happy” about the approval of Questions 2 and 9 – which address voting rights for felons and an affordable housing bond – because they will help shrink the gap between socio-economic groups in the state.

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