In A Long Primary Season, Students Say They're Staying Motivated

This story was written by Emily Schultheis, Daily Pennsylvanian
It's been more than three months since this year's first presidential primary - but despite the long, still-contested race for the Democratic nomination, Penn students and political groups are still interested and motivated.

Most pundits predicted a quick primary season, expecting the nominations for both parties to be wrapped up after 22 states voted on Super Tuesday. But contrary to these predictions, New York Sen. Hillary Clinton and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama are both still in the race and the Democratic nomination is still up for grabs.

Both Penn for Obama and Penn for Hillary said the importance of Pennsylvania's April 22 primary has kept them motivated.

"At first we were a little bummed that Pennsylvania was so late, so that most of the stuff we were able to do was peripheral," said Penn for Hillary spokeswoman Julie Siegel, a former Daily Pennsylvanian Spin editor. "I think that we haven't had any problems getting people fired up because people are really excited that they have an impact."

For Obama supporters, their candidate's underdog status has kept them energized in campaign efforts.

Obama has trailed Clinton by double-digits in the polls and still is 6.6 points behind her, according to RealClearPolitics averages. But this challenge doesn't seem to faze the members of Penn for Obama.

"I think there's a recognition that Pennsylvania is an uphill battle for Senator Obama," Julian Harris, the group's co-president, said. "I think that's one of the reasons we're working so hard."

Obama volunteers received an additional morale boost last week, when Obama made a stop in Philadelphia to speak to those involved in his campaign.

"Some people were a little tired," Harris said. "The event helped to reinvigorate some of our leaders and volunteers."

Because student groups said they had planned for the possibility of a significant Pennsylvania primary early on, they said it's easier to keep up efforts now.

"One of our advantages is that we had a strong organization here, which made it easier for us to hit the ground running" once Pennsylvania's importance became clear, Harris said.

Siegel said that because Penn for Hillary formed last April, the group was able to get an early start in its organizational efforts both in general and here in Pennsylvania.

For some, however, the election has begun to drag on a little too long.

"I guess it's kind of a mix," said College sophomore Ginny Halden.

She said she is still interested because it's her first time voting in a presidential election but added, "At the same time, there's other important news, and it might be better to just see how things are going to pan out now."
© 2008 Daily Pennsylvanian via U-WIRE