Carleton College's student newspaper since 1877

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Local and National Elections Engage Carleton Community

<f winter term saw an explosion of political activity and activism on campus. Members of the Carleton community mobilized in anticipation of local and national elections.

Locally, Democratic candidate Kevin Dahle defeated Republican incumbent Ray Cox in the District 25 State senate election. “The State Senate is at a very important place,” Comedian and senatorial candidate Al Franken said after a rally for Dahle on January 2, “We’re one vote away from having a veto-proof majority in the state senate.”

The Democratic Farmer Labor Party hopes Dahle’s election will send a message to members of the house Republican caucus, warning them that votes with Governor Tim Pawlenty will result in future election defeats.

Official election results showed Dahle with 55.15 % of the 6,802 votes received to Republican Ray Cox’s 42.37%. In a race that was projected by many analysts to be decided by a couple percentage points, Dahle won by almost 1,600 votes.

In Northfield, Dahle received 71.82% of the vote to Cox’s 27.22%. Some local citizens voiced concern over the Democrat’s focus in mobilizing the college vote. In an election that could enable Democrats to override Pawlenty’s vetos on tax bills, non-property tax paying college students could have had a significant influence on the results. At the two sites where Carleton and St. Olaf students voted, Dahle received 78.82% of votes cast. At those two sites, though, Dahle only received 683 more votes than Cox, less than half his margin of victory.

The 25th district is comprised of the northern half of Rice County, all of Le Sueur County, the southern part of Scott County, and the eastern third of Sibley County. According to Northfield News, “the two precincts that voted most heavily Democratic were home to St. Olaf and Carleton Colleges.”

Caucus season also heightened political activism and discussion on campus. Barack Obama led the polls at the January 4 Iowa caucus, winning 37.6 percent of the Democratic vote. John Edwards followed at 29.7 percent. Hillary Rodham Clinton came in a close third with 29.5 percent. Mike Huckabee led the Republican candidates winning 34.4 percent of the vote. Mitt Romney followed at 25.2 percent. Fred Thompson came in third at 13.4 percent. John McCain closed the polls at 13.1 percent.

Iowa resident Ben Barclay ’09 became involved with the Rock the Caucus organization affiliated with the national non-partisan and non-profit Rock the Vote campaign that encourages younger citizens to vote in local and national elections. Rock the Caucus specifically targeted high school aged voters in Iowa who during the 2004 election turned out in extremely low numbers.

Barclay explains that Rock the Caucus also sought to “draw media attention to the strategic importance of young people.” The effort to empower young voters reflects the impending generational shift and entrance into the professional world.

Democratic candidates particularly cited their success to the strength of the young vote. Of Democratic voters, 57 percent of voters ages 17-29 supported Senator Barack Obama. Young Republicans supported Governor Mike Huckabee at a rate of 41 percent in the Iowa caucus—giving more support than any other Republican candidate.

Young voters should have a deciding voice in a presidential election that will directly effect the political direction of the United States. “If we vote,” says Barclay, “we’re becoming a big enough bloc that we may actually be able to bring about change.”

The results in Iowa did not prove a prediction of the January 8 New Hampshire primary results—often hailed as a likely predictor of the presidential election. Hillary Rodham Clinton won 39 percent of the Democratic vote with a slight win over Barack Obama who closed the polls at 36 percent. John Edwards finished third drawing 16.9 percent of the vote.

John McCain led the Republican candidates winning 37 percent of the votes. Mitt Romney followed with 31.5 percent. Mike Huckabee finished third with 11.2 percent. For the Republicans, the New Hampshire primary results prove a significant departure from those in Iowa.

Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton saw significant improvement in New Hampshire. The New York Times reported that based on exit poll data, Democratic women were Clinton supporters against previous expectations and perhaps contributed to her win over Obama. According to the same article, “Women Backed Clinton, Exit Polls Show” printed on January 9, Democratic voters believe that Obama has the best chance to beat the Republican candidate.

Republican voters saw McCain as a critic of the current administration. Half of the voters questioned were “dissatisfied or angry with President Bush;” McCain’s position as a critic worked in his favor in New Hampshire.

As the 2008 election nears, members of the Carleton community will undoubtedly continue in their efforts here on campus.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Carletonian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *