Though Election Night brought students together in dorm rooms and dining halls, a small group of Yale students followed the results from offices across America and presidential campaign headquarters.
At least seven students left Yale this fall semester to volunteer on presidential and congressional campaigns, following in the footsteps of those in the past who worked for Obama and other campaigns in 2008. Students who volunteered for campaigns in 2012 and 2008 stressed the significance of Election Night, having followed the race for months as staffers.
Yale students working for the Obama campaign watched from various headquarter sites as voting results came in throughout the night. As Obama’s victory was called, they said they felt exhilarated after returning to the campaign office.
“It’s unbelievable … I don’t think I’ve really been part of something so big, and I’ve put so much blood and tears into it. It’s been so long a road, and I worked with these people for so long, and for so many hours,” said Cody Pomeranz ’15, who worked as a 2012 summer intern at the Obama communications office in Pennsylvania, from a victory party at the campaign’s Pennsylvania office. “Just to be at the victory party and see the screen call for the president is so rewarding — it’s a big pay off.”
JD Sagastume ’14, who spent this past semester coordinating canvassing efforts for Obama in Michigan and later from campaign headquarters in Chicago, said he felt “very happy and exhilarated” when Michigan was called for Obama Tuesday night.
“Though it wasn’t really a surprise, it was still very vindicating to know that I helped with that,” Sagastume said.
Although he said he was not surprised by the outcome of Tuesday’s presidential race, Zac Krislov ’15 said working for the Obama campaign was a “a tremendous experience” that allowed him to meet people from many different backgrounds. Students who worked on the 2008 campaigns shared a feeling of regret at being less involved during this election cycle.
Tom Dec ’13, who worked for Congressman Jim Himes, who represents Connecticut’s 4th Congressional District, celebrated his victory early Tuesday night, after Himes’ victory was celebrated unofficially by campaign workers.
“We just got our results back and are going to the victory party now,” Dec said at around 9 p.m. Tuesday. “It’s a fantastic experience.”
While attending Himes’s victory party, the outcome of the presidential race was called, declaring victory for President Obama. Dec said Obama’s re-election sent a “strong message” from the public that Obama’s vision of the country was one they supported and one they wanted to see in the next four years.
Students who worked for the 2008 and 2012 campaigns in specific states said they felt personally invested in the election results of those states.
“It was definitely nice when the race was called for Obama [in 2008], but the prize was when North Carolina’s votes were finally tabulated and called for Obama a few days later. When I heard he won by 6000 votes, I broke down crying,” said Joe Charlet ’12, who worked for Obama’s 2008 campaign.
Audrey Huntington ’12, who took a semester off from Yale in 2008 because she was “really concerned about the [election’s] outcome,” said she considered quitting her current job to volunteer for Obama’s 2012 campaign. Though her faith in an Obama victory stopped her from doing so, Huntington still expressed frustration at not being as involved this year as she was in the 2008 election. Though she donated money to Obama’s 2012 campaign, she found it “incredibly frustrating” that she could not participate more directly.
“I’ve been involved a tiny bit in this election, canvassing on a weekend or two, but it’s not a fraction of what I did in ’08. It’s been frustrating just watching it unfold and not having a part in it,” Huntington said.
Yale students involved in campaigns for the 2012 presidential race worked in Michigan, Virginia, Illinois, New York and Connecticut.