Andrea Ouyang

On Wednesday evening in the Branford Mendell room, a dozen Yalies gathered around a table, their phones and laptops at the ready.

The students, all active members of Yale Students for Hillary, participated in a phone bank to call potential voters in New Haven and raise support for presidential candidate Hillary Clinton LAW ’73 in Connecticut’s upcoming primary, which is scheduled to take place April 26. Yale Students for Hillary arranged the event in conjunction with Hillary for Connecticut, the state branch of the national Ready for Hillary campaign. The phone bank is one in a series of student pushes for voter engagement in the last few weeks leading up to the Democratic and Republican primaries.

“The Internet is not a substitute for getting people to vote,” said former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean ’71, who was present at the phone bank. “The 50-state strategy was designed to have places in every state, including places like Connecticut which reliably vote Democratic, to have a party where we can be strong and … to invest early in places and get people comfortable with the notion of being in favor of Democrats.”

Dean opened the event with remarks supporting Clinton and student action in politics, stressing the importance of personal contact with voters. He cited Clinton’s bipartisan support for legislation and her understanding of foreign policy and national security. Dean said a major factor in his decision to endorse Clinton in September 2015 was her ability to “get something done,” a quality he said was lacking in her opponent, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Following Dean’s remarks, the students began dialing. The calls, which lasted anywhere from several seconds to several minutes, aimed to convince residents to vote and volunteer for Clinton. A typical phone bank will result in several hundreds of calls per evening, Hillary for Connecticut press team member Jack Miller said.

“There are hundreds of thousands of people in the phone bank,” Miller said. “We work with our data team to make sure that these are the most effective [phone] numbers.”

According to Miller, effective numbers are those that belong to demonstrated primary voters.

Students at the phone bank said they were drawn to Clinton’s campaign by her experience and policy work.

“I think predominantly [Clinton] understands issues in a way that the other candidates, on both sides of the aisle, don’t,” said Haley Adams ’16, co-president and founder of Yale Students for Hillary, which she founded in 2013. “She has really nuanced, in-depth solutions to problems, and while it’s important to draw attention to issues, it’s more important to actually have a solution.”

While some students have thrown their support behind Clinton, other campus Democrats have instead backed Sanders by joining Yale Students for Bernie.

Yale Students for Bernie co-founder and co-chair Matthew Massie ’17 cited Sanders’ progressive policies and positions on issues such as financial accountability as reasons for his support of the senator’s campaign.

“The reason I see a lot of people voting for Bernie Sanders is that … the things that I hear Bernie Sanders discuss are things that shackle students to tremendous debt and a bad economy and that applies to the [students] here,” Massie said.

Yale student campaigns for both Clinton and Sanders have carried out similar tactics to attract voters for their candidates. Both groups have hosted phone banks and canvassed in New Hamphire and Massachusetts, Adams and Massie said.

Each organization has also collaborated with the Yale Democrats to increase voter registration and bring more Democrats to the polls, he added.

“What I think is great about the Yale’s campaign discourse is that it’s been pretty friendly; there’s not any animosity,” Adams said.

Volunteers for Ready for Hillary said although they saw strong support for Clinton on campus, campaign members for each candidate were friendly with each other. Adams added that Yale Students for Bernie and Yale Students for Hillary have co-hosted events, such as watch parties for Democratic debates.

Massie described the Yale Democratic campaigns as “nothing but kind and cordial.”

“We just happen to disagree on the presidential race,” Massie said.

Correction, April 7: A previous version of this article incorrectly misstated Howard Dean’s title; in fact, he is a former Vermont governor, not senator. 

  • yaleyeah

    Tough job to make calls for one of the most corrupt and dishonest politicians in the country.

  • Sam Osborne

    Support? Hillary Clinton is the best candidate that big money can buy—thus she insists that all of the rest of us must accept the sorry establishment state of affairs that comes down from the hoarders of the world’s and nation’s wealth that are intent on binding us in servitude to conglomerate bankers that have no allegiance to the people of any land.

    Clinton reflects no vision or faith in the capacity of the American people to do the difficult today, with the impossible taking but a day or two longer. She has mouthed purpose that she only mouths that she pilfered from Bernie Sanders. She has not shifted her position she only renders lip service to enrich more of the same establishment.

    People fed up Feel the BERN as did those for whom FDR gave voice in the depth of the Great Depression who refused to accept the shopping list of greed of banks that busted the American Dream and are today the like Clinton says be put up with. To wit, like Sanders now FDR then made noted:

    “The money changers have fled from their high seats in the temple of our civilization. We may now restore that temple to the ancient truths. The measure of the restoration lies in the extent to which we apply social values more noble than mere monetary profit.”

    And in call for great ideas of purpose from the people FDR put forth:

    This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory.

    And when the depths of the Great Depression had drawn on and on, FDR let the people know he had faith in them to keep gong and their ideas to keep flowing:

    “Governments can err, presidents do make mistakes, but the immortal Dante tells us that Divine justice weighs the sins of the cold-blooded and the sins of the warm-hearted on different scales. Better the occasional faults of a government that lives in a spirit of charity than the consistent omissions of a government frozen in the ice of its own indifference. There is a mysterious cycle in human events. To some generations much is given. Of other generations much is expected. This generation of Americans has a RENDEZVOUS WITH DESTINY.”

  • Nancy Morris

    Hillary Clinton has been on a thirty year crime spree. It’s interesting that these Yale Democrats don’t seem to care. Will they care if she’s indicted this time? I’d like to think so, but what sign is there of that? Do they care about her more current raft of felonies evidencing her utter contempt for national security and intent to undermine the Freedom of Information Act? Do they care more than they did about her pork bellies insider trading? Her multiple counts of perjury? Her multiple counts of subornation of perjury? Her repeated witness intimidation? Her illegal campaign contributions? Her being an accessory after the fact to rape and sexual assault?

    Do Democrats just plan to observe that she is technically innocent until proven guilty and deserves the presumption of innocence until her conviction? Maybe even expiration of her appeals?

    Of course, she would walk from her inauguration into an impeachment proceeding, and the government would be paralyzed for a very long time while that all played out, but so what? Where’s the evidence Democrats care?

    And Clinton’s obvious criminal history should not distract from her fundamental untrustworthiness. This is a person whose every word misleads and deceives. Yet here we have Yale students ascribing “nuance” to her proposals and policies. What proposals and policies would those be? How can one tell, since the tiniest fleck of grammar or vocabulary is routinely seized on by Clinton for utter repudiation of her core meaning when opportunity arises. Talk about suckers.

  • ShadrachSmith

    Hillary=good is a tough sell. D=good & R=bad is a faith-based premise not revealed truth, so Hillary=D therefore Hillary=good is GIGO. No offense intended 🙂

  • SpringtimeforDonald

    Wow, Yale managed to find a dozen students to phone bank for Hillary. Impressive.

    Why no mention of the fact that superdelegate Howard Dean is also a prime beneficiary of the revolving door: a well-heeled health insurance lobbyist?

    Why no mention of his infamous tweet: “Super delegates don’t “represent people” I’m not elected by anyone. I’ll do what I think is right for the country”

    It would have given tis article some much-needed perspective on what’s at stake in this primary contest and why it’s likely to become volatile by July.