They rang the doorbells and waited in the cold. At some houses, hot beverages and engaging conversations greeted them, but at others, there was only the frantic bark of a dog.
Over the past weekend, this is what a group of over 75 students experienced on their group trip to New Hampshire to canvass for various candidates before last Tuesday’s Democratic primary election. The students on the trip included members of the Yale College Democrats, the Wesleyan Democrats, Yale for Warren, Yale for Pete, Wesleyan for Warren, Wesleyan for Bernie and Yale Law School Democrats.
“A number of our members had expressed excitement for their respective favorite Presidential candidates,” wrote Liam Elkind ’21, elections coordinator for the Yale College Democrats, in an email to the News. “We have an organizational policy to not endorse in contested partisan primaries, so we thought it would be a good idea to provide our members with the chance to make the pitch for their candidates to voters in a crucial primary state. The trip was an opportunity to bring our schools together and unite Democrats in their pursuit of nominating the best candidate to beat President Trump and achieve progressive reform to pursue a more perfect union.”
The canvassing trip — organized by Elkind, Maya Gomberg, events coordinator for the Wesleyan Dems in the class of 2022, and Duncan Hosie LAW ’21, co-president of the Yale Law School Dems — gave students the opportunity to canvass for candidates in the Democratic party. The organizers of the trip arranged for cars and buses to take the students to Nashua, New Hampshire, where they spent Saturday knocking on doors for their preferred contenders.
When Gomberg reached out to Elkind about organizing a joint canvassing trip, she was most excited about getting to collaborate with the Yale Dems and pool their resources. Moreover, she was glad that they were able to make the trip as accessible as possible — as it lasted only a day rather than the entire weekend — so that everyone who was interested could come.
“It was really amazing to see everyone up there and see how many different people from totally different spheres on our campus — and I’m sure totally different spheres on yours — were also coming together to support the candidates they cared about,” Gomberg said. “I really liked that we let anyone who wanted to come up into the bus. It wasn’t a bus — it wasn’t a trip — to support just a single candidate.”
While the majority of the students canvassed for Elizabeth Warren, a handful of Bernie Sanders supporters and one Pete Buttigieg supporter joined them on the trip.
For Sofia Godoy ’23, an Elizabeth Warren supporter, the canvassing trip was valuable because it allowed her to have face-to-face interactions with voters. Hosie voiced a similar sentiment, sharing that a supporter of an opposing candidate gave him hot chocolate — a gesture that Hosie said represented the “best aspects of direct democracy.”
“Ronald Dworkin and others wrote extensively about how democracy depends on a culture of mutual respect, not contempt,” Hosie wrote in an email to the News. “Through canvassing, we listened to people who hold different views and developed political empathy, which is intrinsically valuable for individuals and beneficial for democratic discourse overall.”
While the students who went on this particular trip only stayed for the day, Yale Students for Bernie also organized an alternate trip that same weekend. James Wang ’23 decided to attend that trip, saying that he wanted to spend more time in New Hampshire in order to “make a greater difference” in the election.
And while Godoy does not believe that her canvassing efforts on behalf of Warren impacted the results of Tuesday’s primary election, Wang said he thinks that his weekend in New Hampshire made a difference. He stated that Tilton and Belmont, two towns that the group canvassed in, were won by Bernie by less than 20 votes.
“Every vote counts in this election. I truly believe that our canvassing efforts in these towns helped secure a victory for Bernie,” Wang said. “We spoke with a lot of voters who liked Bernie’s proposals but were a little hesitant to vote for him. Having conversations with these people about their daily struggles and how a Bernie presidency would benefit them helped secure their vote for Bernie.”
Sanders won the New Hampshire primary election, garnering a reported 25.7 percent of the vote. Pete Buttigieg came in a close second place, and Amy Klobuchar ’82 followed in third.
Julia Bialek | firstname.lastname@example.org