Of the two mayoral candidates, Alderman Justin Elicker FES ’10 SOM ’10 has secured more Yale student votes than state Senator Toni Harp ARC ‘78, according to the results of a recent survey conducted by the News.
The survey — completed by 907 Yale undergraduates — found that 55.22 percent of students who plan to cast a ballot in the upcoming municipal elections support Elicker, while only 22.47 percent of student voters favor Harp. And in response to a question about the extent of the candidates’ engagement with the Yale community, most students indicated that Elicker has had more interaction with Yale’s campus. According to the survey results, less than 2 percent of Yale students said that Harp engaged with the community “greatly” while 27.22 percent of students said that Elicker had.
Even though the polling data indicates that Elicker will capture more of the Yale student vote, Harp appears to have more support from the rest of the city. In September’s four-way mayoral democratic primary, Harp captured 49.8 percent of the votes and Elicker took a modest 23.2 percent.
The diverging polling data could result from Elicker’s greater campus presence. Of the 12 registered student voters who were interviewed, nine said that they had a better understanding of Elicker’s platforms and therefore were more inclined to vote for him next week.
“I’ve just been harassed by so many Elicker supporters on campus,” said Tara Rajan ’15, a registered voter in Connecticut. “I feel like I know much more about Elicker and his views, so I’ll probably vote for him rather than Harp.”
As soon as Elicker decided to run for mayor, he came to Yale to talk to students about his vision for the city, according to Yale for Elicker field manager Rachel Miller ’15. More recently, he made appearances at the Extracurricular Bazaar, President Peter Salovey’s inauguration and the Freshman Barbeque.
Elicker’s supporters on campus feel that while Elicker has made himself accessible to students by giving out his phone number and attending major campus events, Harp has not tried to include Yale students in conversations about city politics.
“Elicker has made such an effort to reach out to our students, and Senator Harp has made it a point of doing the exact opposite,” said Elicker’s finance consultant Rafi Bildner ’16. “It’s really disappointing that her vision doesn’t see Yale students as a part of the city.”
Harp supporters disagree, citing Harp’s recent meet-and-greet event on Cross Campus and a question-and-answer session before the Democratic primary as evidence for her outreach efforts. Michael Harris ’15, Harp’s field director, said that in addition to those two on-campus events, Harp’s team also includes students who campaigned in surrounding neighborhoods like Dixwell and Newhallville. Still, Harris was not surprised that the survey results revealed greater campus support for Elicker than for Harp.
“Elicker has been on campus a lot, and he has an accent on things like improving the city website and other things in New Haven that may resonate more with students,” he said.
But Harris added that Elicker has not received this same level of support from a number of neighborhoods outside of Yale and that Harp’s campaign has a broader strategy of garnering support from New Haven residents as well as students from Yale and Gateway Community College.
The minority of students who plan to vote for Harp argue that her 20-year tenure as a state senator leave her better prepared to serve the city.
“People know her track record and in the end that is what is really going to make a difference,” Harris said.
Harp was first elected to the state senate in 1992.
Correction: Nov. 1