After months of aldermanic debates, Facebook advertisements, dining hall table tents, ice cream socials and press conferences, the candidates of the Ward 1 aldermanic race know that the outcome of Friday’s election will all come down to one thing: a simple numbers game.
In the hours leading up to the opening of polls at 9 this morning, campaign team members and supporters of Minh Tran ’09, Mike Jones ’11 and Katie Harrison ’11 crunched numbers, plotting canvassing routes and comparing lists of registered Ward 1 Democrats with tabulations of pledged campaign supporters. While Jones and Tran made phone calls to friends and voters from their campaign headquarters — their suite common rooms — Harrison navigated the entryways of Bingham Hall, knocking on the doors of freshman suites.
Although it is anyone’s guess exactly how many voters will show up at the polls tomorrow, Anna Robinson-Sweet ’11, Harrison’s campaign manager, said many campaign operatives are estimating that approximately 800 voters will cast ballots. Ensuring a solid victory will require obtaining the magic number of voters: 400.
“Four hundred voters would be great,” Robinson-Sweet said. “If the race is close, someone could win with 300 or 350 — but 300 is the bare minimum.”
At 8:15 p.m. Thursday, Jones and three of his campaign staffers had covered every surface of the candidate’s first-floor Saybrook College common room with pages of registration forms, supporter pledges and lists of registered voters.
“All throughout this race, one thing I’ve liked is that I get to know every voter,” Jones said as he printed out lists of names from his computer. “But we’ve always known that it’s a battle of who can turn out the greatest numbers.”
Matt Ellison ’10, Jones’ campaign manager, said there were 10 campaign staffers and 20 volunteers divvying up the residential colleges and Old Campus residence halls to knock on doors tonight, as well as phoning friends and strangers.
“It’s a lot of lists,” Ellison said from behind the glowing screen of his white MacBook. “A lot, a lot of lists.”
Meanwhile, with a map of Bingham floor plans in hand, Harrison knocked on doors of her pledged supporters, often finding their suitemates instead. On the fourth floor of Entryway B, Harrison entered the common room of Mackenzie Rivers ’12, Alicia Darnell ’12 and Rachel Glodo ’12, three Trumbull College freshmen who said they had not spent much time learning about the candidates’ platforms.
“Forgive me, but I don’t know much about the Board of Aldermen,” Glodo said. “It sounds like something from ‘Lord of the Rings.’ Do they wear cloaks? I feel like they should wear cloaks.”
Harrison explained the basics of the role of an alderman, and launched into the highlights of her platform — sustainable economic development and improving town-gown relations. And although two of the three freshmen were not registered to vote in today’s election, she encouraged them to contact their other Ward 1 friends to encourage them to vote for her.
Meanwhile, Robinson-Sweet set up camp in the common room of Berkeley College. Arming incoming volunteers with campaign T-shirts, posters, flyers, pamphlets and photocopied op-ed columns from the News, she explained that every vote in this race will matter. Although the campaign teams all had lists of registered Ward 1 Democrats, many of the names belonged to graduated students or students who have moved off Old Campus and into their colleges in Ward 22, so campaign volunteers cross-checked the lists with Yale Facebook entries in the buildup to today’s vote.
In a Durfee Hall common room full of Morse College freshmen wearing royal blue Minh Tran T-shirts, Tran said he felt “happy and content” with the course his campaign has taken since the announcement of his candidacy.
“New Haven is rarely put in the spotlight at Yale, so with this three-way campaign, that has created some real excitement on campus,” Tran said. “Win or lose this race, I think we’ve done our job.”
Jim Berry ’12, Tran’s campaign co-director, was less serene about the last 24 hours of the campaign. In the midst of calling Ward 1 voters and directing other freshmen to e-mail panlists, he admitted that he has “few things scheduled past 8 o’clock on Friday.” Since the start of the campaign, he said, Tran’s campaign has contacted approximately 1,200 Ward 1 voters. At 10:30 Thursday night, it was time to hang the hand-drawn posters lying on the floor of Tran’s common room.
“All right ladies, wake up, because you also have to be awake at 7 a.m. tomorrow!” Berry said. “So let’s go poster!”
The Ward 1 Democratic endorsement vote will begin at 9 a.m. Friday at the New Haven Free Public Library. Polls will stay open until 8 p.m.