Mass. senate race draws Yalies

In light of a race that could determine the partisan makeup of the U.S. Senate, the Yale College Democrats and Republicans have flocked to Massachusetts to canvass for their respective candidates.

The election between Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat, and incumbent Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, a Republican, is one of the closest and most closely watched Senate races this year. Knowing that the result of the Senate election may determine the next president’s legislative success, both the Dems and the Yale College Republicans took to Massachusetts in recent months to convince voters that their candidate is best for the state and the nation.

In September, the Dems sent 30 students to Springfield, Mass. to canvass, doing the same in Worcester, Mass. in October, said Nicole Hobbs ’14, elections coordinator of the Dems. The Yale College Republicans sent volunteers to Springfield in October, said Elizabeth Henry ’14, chairwoman of the organization.

According to Dems President Zak Newman ’13, canvassing is one of the most effective ways for college students to influence the election, as college groups tend to have limited financial resources.

Canvassing is a great way to “feel like you’re participating in a democratic process” in a way “a lot more meaningful than just voting,” said Austin Schaefer ’15, vice chairman of the Yale College Republicans.

“What’s encouraging and empowering for us is that if you look at what determines the outcomes of elections, it’s these individual conversations between voters and volunteers at the door that really moves elections,” Newman said.

The latest poll from Rasmussen Reports, a Republican-leaning polling firm, gives Warren a five-point advantage. But the majority of polls put Warren at only a modest lead, with most polls’ margins of error larger than the spread between the two candidates.

Although Newman thinks Warren has “reason to be optimistic,” he said that she should not yet “relax.” Instead, he added, good polling numbers are a reason to redouble campaign efforts.

But for Schaefer, the five-point lead is less an indication of who the winner will be, and more a representation that the Massachusetts Senate election will be “very close.”

Henry described the atmosphere at a Brown campaign rally she attended earlier this month as “fired up.”

“That sort of on-the-ground excitement, to me, speaks volumes more than political polling when you remember that most political polls have a response rate of only around nine or 10 percent,” Henry said.

Schaefer said that undecided voters with whom he interacted while canvassing tended to lean toward Brown, but those who had already made up their minds tended to say they would vote for Warren.

Because the presidential election is also this year, he added, the turnout is likely to be more reflective of the liberal political character of Massachusetts than it was in 2010, when Brown was elected, which could make it more difficult for Brown to win.

Voting day is this Tuesday, Nov. 6.

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