Tag Archive: Yale on the Trail: Battlegrounds

  1. A Day in South Carolina

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    By Nick Bayless/Staff Photographer

    Traveling to such a political hot spot as South Carolina, I expected to run into fellow reporters covering the campaign trail. However, I wasn’t really expecting to run into them in line at “Five Guys Burgers” at 7:30 a.m. in the Washington, D.C., airport.

    That’s where I met Kevin and Sreya, a reporter and cameraman working for Reuters and also traveling to South Carolina. After demolishing my burger (and after Karan similarly disposed of his breakfast burrito), we sat down with them to talk about what it was like to cover the primary season for a news service like Reuters. Because Reuters focuses mainly on an international audience, their angle is significantly different than that of the traditional American press. According to Kevin, “When the primaries started, we had to explain what a primary is. The international audience is pretty much concerned with who’s going after Bush. They don’t care about health care … they care about Iran.”

    The pair also discussed the implications of the youth vote. In reference to the primary two weeks ago, they said, “In Iowa, the youth vote definitely mattered. People are out voting who have never voted before.” We also talked about the difficulties of covering a subject that is so often changing at the last moment. For example, while covering Iowa, “The media didn’t even realize Huckabee was going to come out on top. We had to react to that.”

    Upon our arrival in Charleston, we dealt with a plethora of transportation difficulties. It was our original intention to proceed to Aiken, S.C., the site of a supposed GOP rally featuring the prominent Republican candidates. However, after two hours of failed attempts to secure transportation to the 140-mile distant Aiken, we got in touch with Abi Nicholas, a news clerk at the Charleston Post and Courier. Abi offered to let us cover the rally with them down at the newsroom, as well as interview key members of their news staff.

    When we realized that the rally in Aiken was not all it was cracked up to be, and the only candidates in attendance were individuals who were only running in South Carolina, we took Abi up on her offer and headed off to visit the Post and Courier in downtown Charleston. A 20-minute cab ride (and an unexpected stop for fuel) later, and we were in the foyer of Charleston’s most prominent newspaper. We were greeted and escorted up to the newsroom by our host, Abi, a recent graduate from the College of Charleston and former news editor of their student newspaper.

    She introduced us to Robert F. Behre, the politics editor, who talked to us about the influence of the students on the race, and on the candidates’ differing approaches to swaying that segment of the vote. According to Behre, “Ron Paul and John McCain are the only Republican candidates to even acknowledge students.” He also made mention of the striking differences between this race and the S.C. 2000 primary. Behre said, “This primary is different: In the GOP eight years ago, there were only two candidates: It was a much bigger deal. Bush’s win got him the nomination. This time, there’s not a front runner, and it’s all very up in the air. There’s not as much media, and we’re all try to cover four or more campaigns.”

    Robert Behre

    We then talked to Douglas Pardue, a former political correspondent, and current special features editor. Pardue used to enjoy politics, but was moved to special features after covering a heart-wrenching tale of a young girl’s tragic death. He believes, “People is what journalism is all about, not politicians … what makes people happy, and mad, and sick.” This didn’t stop him from commenting on Obama’s “star power” and the fact that “Iraq is a big deal to people, but when it comes down to it, people are going to vote for the economy.” He concluded his mini-speech with the prophetic statement, “Humans beings don’t exist in news coverage … only people with titles.”

    Doug Pardue

    When we were done at the Post and Courier, Abi put us in contact with the student media at the College of Charleston. There we were shown around by Sam Tyson, the editor-in-chief of the George Street Observer, the main student newspaper at the college. We saw the media building, encompassing the student radio station and television studio, as well as showing us the offices of the newspaper. We talked about the local “Bully Pulpit” series, in which presidential hopefuls are invited to come speak to crowds of 1000+ students. McCain was one of the most prominent candidates to take part in the series, and according to Tyson, it garnered him a great deal of support among the student body. Barack Obama also held a separate rally on the campus last week, drawing a large crowd of both students and townspeople. Tyson said many students are very concerned with promoting diversity on campus and they “look at the Obama candidacy as a way to be put on the map as far as being listened to.”

    College at Charleston

    While briefly touring the school, we got into a fascinating discussion with an outspoken campus security guard who had opinions on every candidate and something to say about almost every happening of the election so far. When she was in school, she said, she had been a journalism major and had enjoyed covering politics and elections then. Though she is now in her second career, she still enjoys keeping up with politics and discussing it whenever possible.


    On our way off of the campus, while saying our goodbyes to Tyson, a brightly colored Suburban pulled up to the curb outside of a FedEx/Kinko’s, and energetic man sprang out. We quickly determined his candidate affiliation from the veritable mural-sized portrait of Dr. Ron Paul on his vehicle, and his T-shirt sporting the phrase, “Who is Ron Paul?” The man was dashing into Kinko’s to make 700 copies of his homemade survey which he plans to conduct tomorrow himself, because he “doesn’t feel he can trust any other poll.” After introducing himself to us as W.A. Riley, he shared with us his story of traveling from primary to primary, spreading the word about his favorite candidate. In the last few weeks, the Philadelphia resident has been to Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, and plans to visit New York and New Jersey on Super Tuesday. He then proceeded into an impassioned tirade extolling the virtues of Dr. Paul, while giving us armfuls of pamphlets, papers and informational DVDs guaranteed to make us understand and agree with Paul. When he completed his spiel, he politely excused himself (after inviting us to a Paul rally Friday evening) to rush off to make his copies and prepare for his one-man protest against modern statistical methods.

    Ron Paul ‘burb

    While South Carolina certainly isn’t as charged as it has been in primaries in past years, it’s definitely an exciting time in a primary season where a win in the state could shift the deadlock that the leading candidates are now in. With only a short time remaining before the polls open, the rallies and last-ditch efforts on behalf of the Republican candidates and campaigns will certainly provide a great test of the organizations and efforts of the candidates and their supporters. But we certainly can’t discount the efforts and impacts of maverick campaigners such as Mr. Riley.

    W.A. Riley

  2. State in spotlight, city leaders endorse Obama

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    By Victor Zapana/Staff Reporter 

    Usually rendered irrelevant by its late primary date, Connecticut is poised this year to finally make a difference in the presidential nominating contests as one of 24 states voting on the Feb. 5 “Super-Duper Tuesday” — and local leaders are noticing.


  3. Neither cold nor crowds can impede the campaign trail

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    By Thomas Kaplan/Staff Reporter

    HAMPTON, N.H. — As Keri Lucas, a 32-year-old schoolteacher from Nottingham, N.H., trudged through the snow outside Winnacunnet High School here last Sunday night, she could barely contain her excitement.

    Lucas and her boyfriend’s mother, Judy Barsosky, 66, another schoolteacher, drove for close to an hour for the privilege of standing in the damp cold outside this school for another hour as dusk settled over the seaside town of 14,000. Of course, they would be heading to work at their own schools the next morning.

    But that night, they were here to see Senator Hillary Clinton LAW ‘73, their favorite candidate among those Democrats vying for the presidential nomination. The women were longtime residents of Massachusetts, where they watched the New Hampshire buzz from a state away every four years and enjoyed candidate visits — the perk of proximity — themselves. But last winter, they moved across the border, just in time for their first New Hampshire primary.

    “This,” Lucas said, “is the state where you get to see everyone.”


  4. For New Hampshire fourth graders, it’s voting booths over Game Boys

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    NASHUA, N.H., 11:42 a.m. — Typically, fourth graders are more interested in their Game Boys than the world of politics, but here in New Hampshire, even the young’uns get a chance to vote.

    Virginia Drew, the Director of the Visitor’s Center at the Concord statehouse for more than twelve years, has pioneered a voting scheme which gives interested children the change to flex their political muscles in the voting booth.

    “Fourth graders here in New Hampshire are very savvy,” she said in an interview Tuesday, “and so they came in and they cast their ballots today and yesterday — we allowed them to be first of the first in the nation.”

    160 students cast ballots in the primary elections and, although the results are not officially released, “it’s always fun to see how close the kid’s results are to where the state’s are,” she said.

    – Nicolas Niarchos

  5. Not a good day to be a pollster — or a journalist

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    NEW HAVEN, Conn., 11:22 p.m. — In an interview with the pollster John Zogby, the comedian Jon Stewart is discussing on “The Daily Show” the failure of the polls in New Hampshire.

    Zogby said the polls were proven wrong because so many voters did not decide for whom to vote until election day. Stewart asked him whether pollsters could have predicted that in advance. Zogby replied that while only a few percent of people polled said they were “undecided,” many were only “soft” supporters of Obama or Clinton, and that should have been a sign that the race was far from over.

    Zogby said that point might not have been stressed enough to the media when the polls were announced over the past few days.

    “Do the numbers just come in and [journalists] just go, ’41 – 28, my God!’?” Stewart asked incredulously.

    The crowd laughed, and the interview moved on. But, Stewart was right! For better or for worse, that’s exactly how it happens.


  6. Live: Young crowd ‘fired up, ready to go’

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    JERSEY CITY, N.J., 4:22 p.m. — We’re in! All it took was flashing the YaleID. No questions, no being subjected to bomb-sniffing dogs.

    First observation: There are nearly 100 video cameras here. Are there even that many stations?

    The crowd, mostly, is young and Hispanic or black. “Fired up, ready to go!” they are chanting.

    – The Yale Daily News

  7. INSIDE THE NUMBERS: Clinton, not Obama, improves with the ‘youth vote’

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    NEW HAVEN, Conn., 2:31 p.m. — In New Hampshire, Senator Barack Obama seemed to be the darling of students, who flocked to his rallies and cheered for him as if he were a rock star. To young people, he was supposed to be a candidate who represented a new generation of politics, a voice for change standing up for them in a way no other candidate could, or wanted to.

    And, sure enough, young people in the Granite State turned out en masse for Obama yesterday. But an analysis of exit polls reveals that while Obama indisputably dominated New Hampshire’s youth vote, he captured significantly less of it then he did in Iowa. And as Senator Hillary Clinton LAW ’73 enjoyed heavy support from women across the state, a much larger demographic, there went the primary.


  8. Temperature — and turnout — soars

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    NASHUA, N.H., 3:03 p.m. — The thermometer on my car’s dashboard is reading 67 degrees Fahrenheit. I am in New Hampshire. It is January 8th. Something is not right.

    Maybe this is a sign that Al Gore should have thrown his hat in the ring after all.

    (By the way — without an actual candidate to support, the group Draft Gore New Hampshire endorsed former Senator John Edwards on Monday.)

    — Thomas Kaplan

  9. Primary day at Dartmouth: out-of-state students take advantage

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    HANOVER, N.H., 12:51 p.m. — Today might as well be a holiday at Dartmouth College.

    With presidential elections — and the primaries that go with them — coming once every four years, Dartmouth students typically get only one opportunity in their college lifetime to experience the spectacle that is the New Hampshire primary.

    For the university’s 4,000 undergraduates, today is that one chance — and the buzz around campus is unmistakable. All day, Dartmouth students poured out of the polling place at Hanover High School. As they walked back to campus, the chatter about the different candidates seemed almost non-stop.

    The visits to Dartmouth have also been non-stop. Virtually every candidate has stopped in at Dartmouth at least once, and a televised debate was held here in the fall.

    As recently as last night, President Bill Clinton LAW ’73 and Senator John McCain both came to speak at Dartmouth, and Senator Barack Obama held a massive rally on campus this morning. The politicians brought backup, too: the comedian Larry David is also hanging around, stumping for Obama. Arianna Huffington is here, too.

    But students said the allure of the primary comes from more than just the celebrity visitors. Out-of-state students like sophomore Marcus Gadson, of Indianapolis, register to vote here because of the New Hampshire primary’s impact on narrowing down the field of presidential candidates.

    Since Gadson’s home state will not choose its candidates until May 6, he said he felt his vote did not count for much there. But here, it is coveted.

    “That’s one of the great perks of going to Dartmouth,” he said on the way to cast his vote.

    Return tomorrow for extended coverage of primary day at Dartmouth. For now, we are headed to catch Mike Huckabee as he visits a nearby polling place, and then it’s off to the Obama headquarters in Nashua to watch the returns as they come in.

    — Thomas Kaplan

  10. In Henniker, even 8-year-olds watch C-SPAN

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    HENNIKER, N.H., 1 p.m. — For the people of this small town of Henniker, politics is more than something for pundits and politicians. Active participants in this microcosm of American democracy stand outside the local schoolhouse urging passers-by to vote on this beautiful primary day.

    “This is the way politics should be,” said Cathy Calob, the Edwards supporter. “It really gives us hope that (the) candidates will listen and represent us. My daughter’s in 8th grade, and even she’s getting involved.”


  11. Is America ready for a Mrs. President?

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    GERMANTOWN, Tenn., 11:13 a.m. — Hillary Clinton is struggling to lock in the votes of a demographic that American may have once thought was a given — women, especially the younger ones.

    CNN reported this morning that in their latest New Hampshire polls, Clinton trails Barack Obama by two percentage points among women in the state.

    Why is Clinton losing her female following? Turns out it’s another generation gap. Younger women, who have not personally experienced discrimination because of their sex, don’t see the importance and urgency of electing a women president this time around, CNN reports. They’re convinced if it doesn’t happen this time, then it will in four years, or even eight.

    And some older women are simply turned off by the idea of a woman in such a “nontraditional” role. Instead, they see promise in Obama’s relationship-oriented, coalition-building message, rather than Clinton’s experience and assertiveness. While some women do admire her for her strength, more want to see a more spontaneous, candid, emotional Clinton.

    So how will Hillary’s aggressiveness be viewed among New Hampshire’s women? We’ll see in about nine hours.

    The Yale Daily News