This story was written by Kim Kirschenbaum, Columbia Daily Spectator
Columbia University College Democrats are planning to spend their fall break, which lasts from Nov. 1 through Election Day Nov. 4, campaigning in the 10th congressional district of Virginia to encourage residents there to cast their votes.
The group travels annually to a state where they perceive they could have sway on Election Day, but the stakes are unusually high this year because though Virginia has long been considered a Republican-leaning state, many analysts believe it may be in play this year. Members will be canvassing and phone-banking on behalf of presidential candidate Barack Obama (D-Ill.), CC83; Mark Warner, who is running for U.S. senator from Virginia; and the districts congressional candidate Judy Feder. They also plan on meeting with local campaign representatives.
Virginia has not gone blue for many years, and this campaign trip could be symbolic of the significant changes that are taking place across the electoral map, said College Democrat member Rowland Yang, CC 11. The fact that a group of young people are demonstrating so much national enthusiasm will certainly resonate.
The number of students heading to Virginia may also be indicative of what many have called a national enthusiasm. A record-breaking 132 members will make the trip, more than double the number in previous years.
We never anticipated such interest, said College Democrat media director Avi Edelman, CC 11. Being active on this election is very important it is a historical election. By campaigning, we are giving Columbia students an opportunity to participate in grassroots campaigning.
But the Dems trip to Virginia is not their only course of action over the break. Because of limited space and resources, students not going on the Virginia trip will campaign in Queens for State Senate candidate Joseph Addabbo while covering several other select regions.
We are not just convincing people to vote Democratic, but also convincing them just to come out and vote, said lead activist Jenna Hovel, BC 10. Many people are not a part of the political community in general, but when a person takes a personal stake in the process, it turns into a lifelong commitment to politics.
Hovel added that in the course of working for campaigns in past years, she has spoken with people who were not previously interested in politics.
Others closely involved in the organization express surprise at the support it is amassing.
Even during midterms and all else, I find it amazing that 132 students are willing to drop everything in order to make this trip, said Director of Social and Alumni Affairs Greer Feick, CC 11. This is the one opportunity where I will be surrounded by 132 students who not only have the same political views that I have, but are also ready to get out there and stand up for what they believe in.