February 5, 2008

Super Tuesday Contests To Bring Out Millions of Voters

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Today, students registered as New York State residents will have the opportunity to visit one of four locations on or around campus to cast their vote. Super Tuesday will bring millions of people from over 24 states to vote in the caucuses and primaries held throughout the country.
Traditionally, Super Tuesday has hosted a large amount of primaries and caucuses in an attempt to increase the importance of their votes. However, this year more states than ever are holding their primaries earlier, resulting in Super Tuesday accounting for over half the delegates going to the national convention. New York is just one of the states holding its primary on Super Tuesday, and similar to Super Tuesday itself.
Prof. Richard Bensel, government, commented on how this year’s New York Primary will be different than past primaries.
“While many commentators have remarked on the earlier and heavier front-loading of the primaries and caucuses, the real story, in my opinion, is that the races in both parties might, in fact, last longer than any presidential nominating contest since 1980 or even before that,” Bensel said.
Randy Lariar ’08, president of the Cornell Democrats, said, “This year’s primary is different from other years. For starters, it started a lot earlier; the candidates have been campaigning for over a year now. It is a fresh start election, there is no incumbent president or vice president. Whoever gets in is getting in with a blank start.”
Unique to this year’s election race is the possibility of the Democratic Party electing an African American or a woman as a presidential candidate.
However, according to Bensel, “what is almost as important as those precedents is the fact that both possibilities seem to raise so few issues among most voters. While voters [and commentators] certainly remark on the identities of the two candidates, they also seem to routinely see beyond those identities with reference to the characters and policy positions of the contenders.”
“One thing to note about the primaries is that it is not winner take all; it is very likely that Senator Clinton will do well, this is her home state, she is up in the polls, but that is not to say that the Obama campaign cannot pick up votes in this district,” Lariar said.
Additionally, in regards to the political parties themselves, the candidates are emphasizing their differences. Bensel noted, “the Democratic party is more diverse and more divided over major policy issues than is the Republican party.”
However, Bensel said, “the presidential race in the Democratic party has already narrowed to two front-runners while the Republicans are still more or less wide open.”
The Cornell campus has apparently caught the Super Tuesday fervor.
“It’s hard to tell scientifically, but if you sit around Libe [Café] or in a dining hall somewhere, you can hear people talking about the debates or how this election is going to turn out. It is interesting to overhear people talking. Cornell students are not apathetic,” Lariar said.
“Cornell students in general are very passionate about issues; to get to Cornell you had to be passionate about something,” said Hannah Sollecito ’11. “I’m not sure if that passion has carried over into politics for freshmen yet, not everyone is old enough to vote or has had the experience of voting before now. There would be a different view among the upper classmen.”
Either way, many people agree that despite differences in this upcoming primary, there is room to make an impact.
“It is especially important to vote because a lot of things are really split right now. There are plenty of options and plenty of reasons to care” Sollecito said.
“This is the place where we can really make an impact,” Lariar said.