As both presidential candidates focus their attention on the youth vote this election season, student organizations on the Ithaca College campus are promoting the Obama and Romney campaigns this fall.
Ithaca Now speaks with Rob Flaherty, president of the Ithaca College Democrats, and Rob Oliver, president of the IC Republicans. They discuss the difficulties they face when vying for student support for both presidential and Congressional campaigns and their plans to raise awareness on campus this November.
Rob Flaherty on working with voters outside of left-leaning New York:
“We obviously are in New York state, which is not a swing state, although it is an important battleground for the House. For the President, it’s not a state he’s focusing on too much. We are a resource and we have the ability to travel, so we’re actually teaming up through Obama for America with the Penn State Democrats, and we’re going to be going down there. We’re working on going down there with the Cornell University Democrats and sort of working out of State College down there…. It’s a cool opportunity for us to get out of Ithaca, New York politics and go make a difference where voters are actually swinging.”
Rob Oliver on leading a Republican student organization on a liberal college campus:
“The response actually has been good. Even Democrats are happy that they see that we have a side and that there’s some place to come if you are conservative or have leanings toward that area.”
Flaherty on harnessing energy for Election 2012 on a liberal campus:
“We often define Ithaca as being left leaning and we frequently associate left leaning with being a Democrat, but often the two don’t mix. I think the political zeitgeist of Ithaca College is that students are progressive but I’ve found suspicious of the party structure, which I certainly understand. But it’s hard for them to then get involved and translate that into working for the Democratic Party. This season we’re seeing a lot more interest in the party and getting involved in the election, and we provide that outlet. The real challenge I think will be holding that energy past November 6th into next semester and beyond when there isn’t an election.”
Oliver on why the student population is less active than they were during the 2008 election:
“I don’t think students are as impressed with Obama the second time around. I think that’s the issue — that kids aren’t energized anymore. I’m certainly not as energized.”