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Tufts Students Flying To Southern States To Canvass For Obama

This story was written by Michael Del Moro, Tufts Daily

With help from the Tufts Democrats, the Harvard College Democrats and a support group abroad, students in the Boston area are campaigning for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama in several key swing states.

Approximately 42 Tufts students will join 160 others from Harvard University, Mt. Holyoke College and the Boston University School of Law on an all-expenses-paid trip to cities in Georgia and North Carolina from Nov. 1 through Election Day on Nov. 4.

Georgia has not gone to a Democrat in a presidential race since Bill Clinton won the state in 1992. Jimmy Carter was the last Democrat to earn North Carolinas electoral votes in 1976.

If we win North Carolina and Georgia, it proves that Obama has expanded the map in ways that people didnt even consider and it proves that this country is ready for a new direction, Harvard senior Jarret Zafran, president of the Harvard College Democrats, told the Daily.

Students will travel to Raleigh and Charlotte, N.C., and Atlanta and Savannah, Ga. The canvassers will stay with fellow supporters of Sen. Obama (D-Ill.) in each state and go door-to-door for the presidential candidate and for the states respective Democratic senatorial candidates, according to Zafran.

To provide airfare for the students, the organization Americans in Italy for Obama pooled the frequent flier miles from 100,000 European supporters through the service, Zafran said.

Americans in Italy are very excited about Barack Obama, but are limited in their ability to make a difference in the election because they live abroad, according to junior Shana Hurley, president of the Tufts Dems.

Its a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to go to a politically contested region of the country all-expenses-paid and really do something that could make a difference, said Matt McGowen, a freshman going on the trip.

McGowen and the other Tufts canvassers will travel to Savannah, Ga., to campaign for Obama and for Jim Martin, Georgias Democratic candidate for Senate.

Martin has the potential to be the sixtieth Democrat elected to the Senate in November, giving the Democrats a filibuster-proof majority, according to Hurley.

Martin is currently trailing Republican incumbent Sen. Saxby Chambliss by three points in the average of recent polls.

I wholeheartedly believe that us going to these states and flying out there, even though were not from there, can totally make the difference, Hurley said, pointing to the 2006 senatorial races in Missouri and Virginia where she credits student volunteers with making the difference in electing two Democratic senators.

Hurley also pointed to the victory of U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, who serves Connecticuts Second Congressional District. Courtney won his district by 83 votes. Killingly, Conn., the town where Tufts students campaigned for Courtney, was one of the areas that went blue, Hurley said.

For every 12 people you talk to, you gain one vote, Zafran said.

If 200 students campaign for four days and speak with 30 voters each day, they could sway as many as 2000 voters, by Zafrans calculations.

McGowen echoed this sentiment. I think theres an enormous amount of potential for [Obama] to win states like [Georgia and North Carolina] more so than in any other election weve seen recently, he said.

While North Carolina and Georgia will probably not dictate whether Obama wins the election, Zafran said victories in these southern states would be significant because they would give the Democrat a mandate, which I think we really need to make some changes in this country.

Both the Tufts Dems and the Harvard College Democrats have consistently made weekend canvassing trips to New Hampshire. These trips will continue until Election Day.

Advertising for the upcoming southern effort began on Sunday, Oct. 12, and 275 students had registered by 5:00 p.m. this past Wednesday.

Zafran pointed to New Mexico where Al Gore won the state by 345 votes in 2000. This is why I think Obama is headed to victories: he has such grass root support, he said.

According to Zafran, Georgia and North Carolina will not be the deciding states in the race; however, if [Obama] wins a state like North Carolina, hes probably won a state like Ohio, Zafran said, because those states are swamped with volunteers.