Though the country elected Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on Tuesday, in New Haven it was Democrats who came out to vote in large numbers.
According to a voter registration summary sent to the News by the registrar’s office on Nov. 7, of the 77,168 New Haven residents who registered to vote before Election Day, an overwhelming majority of 67 percent are Democrats. Four percent of voters identified as Republicans. Incumbent Democrat Sen. Richard Blumenthal LAW ’73 was re-elected for a second term, as was incumbent state Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut’s 3rd District.
Yale student organizations similarly swayed Democratic. The Yale College Democrats, the largest progressive advocacy group on campus, hosted several voter registration drives throughout this semester, starting with freshman move-in day on Aug. 26. Yale Dems President Maxwell Ulin ’17 said the Dems successfully registered 441 Yale students this semester, including 266 voting in Connecticut and 145 out of state.
Makayla Haussler ’19, communications director of the Yale Dems, said that the group also helped with off-campus voter registration in New Haven.
“We managed to register 50 new people right before the deadline, which is a lot because New Haven has unusually high registration rates,” Haussler said. And according to Ulin, the Yale Dems met at 6:30 a.m. on Election Day to hang door hangers in all residential colleges with specific polling time and location information for students.
Other constituencies on campus pushing students to vote include students connected to alders and the Yale College Council. Gabrielle Diaz ’18, who is co-chair of Ward 22 and works closely with Ward 22 Alder Jeanette Morrison, sent an email on Nov. 7 to students in residential colleges located in Ward 22 — Timothy Dwight, Silliman, Morse and Stiles colleges. In the email, Diaz reminded students of their polling locations and encouraged those who had not registered to take advantage of Connecticut’s Election Day registration.
Diaz added that she also helped many senior citizens in New Haven get their absentee ballots by going door to door and telling individuals where to vote.
In an email to undergraduates, the YCC listed the polling locations for all students and provided contact information for anyone who needed a ride to their polling location.
Haussler said the Yale Dems would drive people to and from Wexler-Grant Community School, one of the polling locations for Yale students, once every hour because all other polling locations used by Yale students were in downtown New Haven.
Still, not all Yale students planned to cast a vote on Election Day. A large contingency had already cast their absentee ballots in their home states. For some, the reason was obvious.
“I anticipated New Haven to go blue so I thought my vote would have more leverage in my parents’ home district,” said Sophia Krohn ’20, who voted for Hillary Clinton LAW ’73 in New Jersey.
Others were motivated to vote in their hometowns for state-specific reasons. For example, many Californians voted absentee, even though California is also solidly Democratic, because of the ballot measures. Among the state’s 17 ballot referendums are measures regarding the death penalty and the legalization of marijuana.
“I did a lot of work in local politics for California’s ballot measures,” Maya Rodriguez ’19 said. “They will appear on the same ballot.”
Rodriguez added that the local and statewide elections, though receiving less coverage than the presidential election, were equally important.
The Yale New Republicans, who were formed after the Yale College Republican’s controversial endorsement of Republican nominee Trump this past summer, decided to focus on Sen. Kelly Ayotte’s re-election campaign in New Hampshire rather than the presidential election.
The YNR said the organization would not be formally supporting either candidate this election cycle. Co-founder Michael Fitzgerald ’19 stated that the group decided to get involved in this specific race because it felt “Donald Trump negatively affected her campaign.” Fitzgerald described the Ayotte campaign as a way to help keep Republican control of the Senate.
Other students wanted to change the political landscape of their home state with their votes. Justin Choi ’19, who voted for Clinton in Georgia, said although Georgia would vote Republican for all races in this election cycle, he still cast an absentee ballot because he read that Georgia might become a swing state in future elections.
“So I’m just trying to prepare the way for that by contributing to closing the margin,” Choi said.
For most of Yale College students, this was also the first time they could vote in a presidential election.
“This is the first time I’m voting in a general election, I really want to have the in-person experience of going to the voting booth,” said Kiran Chokshi ’20, who would be voting in New Haven instead of his hometown in New Jersey.