Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

Student Dems, Republicans encouraging youth vote

f the majority of DU students have their way, Barack Obama will be president.

It’s not a secret the Democratic candidate is the more popular contender among DU students. He was treated like a rockstar during his campus visit in January, and students cut class and waited in line for hours to see him. Magness Arena filled up with 14,000 while nearly 1,000 others overflowed onto playing fields outside of the Ritchie Center waiting to catch a glimpse of the popular senator.

On the other hand, community members mostly made up the Cable Center’s crowd of about 400 at John McCain’s stopat DU in May.

More than a thousand students are members of the DU Students for Barack Obama; the Republican chapter has around half that.

Students for Barack Obama Organizer Dillon Doyle says they are “cautiously optimistic” of an Obama-Biden administration.

Mirroring Obama’s rhetoric, Doyle says he feels it’s time for change.

And with more young people getting out the vote this year, Doyle is confident their votes will help Obama seal a win. “Everyday we see overwhelming public support [for Obama] on campus, our events have drawn hundreds of students at a time and we constantly see students wearing ‘I Early Voted for Barack Obama’ and our ‘University of Denver Students for Barack Obama’ T-shirts,” Doyle says.

But not so fast, say Republicans on campus.

“There is no question that [John McCain] is the underdog but he is very capable of making improbable comebacks,” DU College Republicans President Kevin Poyner says, adding that the polls are unpredictable and often misrepresent the conservative independent vote. Some recent polls have suggested that Obama’s lead isn’t that overwhelming, with experts saying McCain can still win.

Poyner says this weekend marks the “last big push” — 96 hours of straight campaigning for McCain-Palin and senatorial candidate Bob Schaffer. The College Republicans have also put some of their efforts into local races, including State Representative Spencer Swalm’s.

Regardless, DU groups are getting out the vote.

DU Students for Barack Obama hosted actors Zach Braff and Kevin Costner for early voting rallies and both Republicans and Democrats have been registering voters on campus for months.

“Our job isn’t so much encouraging students to vote, but more educating students on their voting rights and facilitating the process to make it much easier and a whole [lot] less scary,” Doyle says.

While the College Republicans chapter has been encouraging students to vote and vote smart, Poyner says their primary focus has been getting students out to campaign and help with voter turnout in the Denver area.

Both parties will be at the Cable Center on Nov. 4 for an election night watch party. DU students, staff and faculty are invited to attend.

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