Politics Blog: Young Obama Supporters Beware

November 6, 2008 by · Comments Off 

Posted by Donnie Wyar

Young voters showed up at the polls en masse this election cycle, likely setting a new record for turnout among those ages 18-29.

Early reports show that almost 50 percent in that age group voted, and according to a recent item on Politico.com, two-thirds of those young voters preferred Obama.

For many young Obama supporters, now is the time to celebrate and look to the future.

But if you or someone you know falls into this category, beware of a strange phenomenon that seems to have affected some of Obama’s young, obsessive followers, as seen in a hilarious parody video by Theonion.com’s “War for the White House.”

Maverick in Missouri: Feeling Blue in Mizzou

November 5, 2008 by · Comments Off 

SMU junior Natalie Ingram is filing daily blog posts from Missouri, where she is working for the McCain campaign.

SMU junior Natalie Ingram is filing daily blog posts from Missouri, where she is working for the McCain campaign.

Posted by Natalie Ingram

Tuesday morning I woke up knowing that a McCain White House was not likely, but I did have hope that somehow the tide would turn and the GOP candidate would pull an upset.?

Polls closed in Missouri at 7 p.m., which is the same time our campaign made the last phone calls reminding people to get out and vote. Unfortunately, our efforts did not pay off nationally. We can, however, feel good about the fact that we won Missouri, if you count by tenths of a point.

When the polls were closed and spirits were grim, I headed off to the the watch party of Kenny Hulshof, the Republican candidate for governor in Missouri. By 10 p.m., he was on the stage offering his concession speech. All together, it was not a good night for those who put their hearts and time into both campaigns.

After Hulshof addressed the room of loyal, disappointed supporters, I headed downtown where the mood was completely the opposite. Obama supporters were out in full force. The bars were a frenzy of excited voters, thrilled that America is finally going to have the “change they believe in.” Cars drove down the street, honking their horns with passengers screaming out of the windows. Basically, it was not a fun place to be for disappointed McCain supporters like myself.

I will not, however, be a sore loser. I do not believe that Obama was the right choice for the most powerful elected office in the world, but I hope that I am wrong. I hope that Obama supporters found something in him that I missed.

My week in Missouri was long. It would be easy to say that my work ended up not being worth it, but I won’t. The reason our country is great is because citizens have the choice to vote for who they want; we have the right to be involved in our political process, and the Constitution allows for us to freely express our opinions and be heard.

For these reasons, we must continue to voice our beliefs, to challenge our government and to demand excellence. It is, however, the government of the people, for the people, by the people.

I am disappointed that the election did not turn out how I hoped, but I will respect Obama for what he is–the new president of the greatest country in the world.

Some Dallas Republicans Shifting to Obama

November 4, 2008 by · Comments Off 

By Michelle Gillespie

Holly Giffin, an administrator at Baylor Health Center, has voted on the Republican ticket in every presidential election for the past 32 years but when she voted early this year, she cast her vote for Barack Obama.

“I was too fearful that if we elected again a Republican who has voted in line with Bush that we would see four more years of the same. I’m not willing to pass that onto my son,” Giffin said.

Giffin is among a growing number of voters in traditionally conservative Dallas County who say they are switching allegiances this election to vote for Barack Obama.

“He is willing to talk to the people and answer the hard questions such as what are you going to do for me to change the economy in the next four years? He answered those questions and I just don’t feel like McCain did,” Giffin explains.

Jesse Garcia, director of the Stonewall Democratic Party of Dallas, echoes Giffin’s concern about McCain.

“He’s attached to a party and a president that is very unpopular. The economic downturn is being blamed solely on the Republican administration,” Garcia says.

Garcia believes McCain’s 2008 campaign has not excited voters in the same way he did in 2000.

“They’re saying ‘Where is that maverick that we saw in 2000 that was ready to buck the party?’”

But some aren’t convinced that the democratic turnout is because Republicans have crossed party lines. Dallas County elections administrator Bruce Sherbet says it has to do with demographics.

“I think it’s like any large urban area that you look at—the changing demographics and how they effect how voters swing one way or the other. I’m not sure you’ve had loyal Republicans desert their party,” Sherbet says.

Sherbet says it’s tough to say how many voters have crossed party lines this year, but he did say that the record turnout of early voters from both parties in Dallas County is a good indicator that the outcome will be a close one.

Subdued Crowd Calls McCain Winner

October 8, 2008 by · Comments Off 

By Callie Wall

Perhaps it was the Town Hall Forum format or the stress of midterms, but Tuesday evening’s crowd for the viewing of the second presidential debate between Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama was surprisingly calm.

The event, held in the O’Donnell Lecture and Recital Hall, was the third segment of SMU’s Debate Watch program. Sponsored by the SMU Forensics program, it featured discussion before the debate of what to expect, a live viewing of the debate, a live campus debate after and an audience poll at the end.

Regardless of the subdued atmosphere, the poll results did show that there was an interest in the debate. Of the 35 voters, 25 said that McCain won the debate, whereas 10 said Obama won.

Once the debate was finished, SMU debaters Victoria Sharwarko and Al Young spoke in favor of their respective candidates. This week, Sharwarko defended McCain and Young supported Obama, changing his stance from as McCain supporter in the first presidential debate.

“Senator McCain can be trusted to uphold the public interest over his own,” Sharwarko said, kicking off the debate.

She also defended McCain against critics that say his 72 years puts him at a disadvantage.

“I prefer a candidate with decades of experience versus decades of dreaming,” she said.

Al Young followed with a response to Sharwarko’s remarks.

“I don’t want my candidate to potentially have memory problems,” he said. “Overall, Obama offers a much more solid platform than McCain.”

The debate was focused heavily on the economy, but also touched on foreign affairs and domestic policies.

For students, the most important issue in this election remains consistent. Every student in attendance said the economy is the biggest issue influencing his or her vote.

Both McCain and Obama drew some laughs and applause from the SMU crowd throughout the night, but overall, the mood was understated.

Even with the lack of participation, SMU Forensics Professor Ben Voth said she believes the Debate Watch forums are essential for the exchange of ideas and to increase awareness during this election.

“The forum is the bedrock for democracy,” he said. “It is a call to thought– what do we think things ought to be like?”

The next and final Debate Watch forum will be held on Oct. 15 at 7 p.m. in the O’Donnell Lecture and Recital Hall.

Informal Presidential Poll Shows Torn Campus

October 2, 2008 by · Comments Off 

By JP Coleman

The presidential race is close even on college campuses as SMU students were split between the two candidates, according to a recent informal poll conducted by university journalism students.

In 68 interviews conducted Wednesday, 30 students favored Obama as the candidate they were either likely to vote for or leaning towards, while 28 students named McCain as their candidate, and nine remained undecided. This comes a week after the first presidential debate that focused on the candidates’ foreign policy initiatives.

The interviews were conducted by students in a “Reporting I” class with varying political views in random locations around campus, including the Cox School of Business, Hughes-Trigg Student Center, Dedman Center for Lifetime Sports and the Umphrey Lee cafeteria.

The pro-Obama students threw their support to the Illinois senator for his calm rationale and because of his promises of change.

“The ability to listen to the American people and make sound decisions under pressure is the quality that seperates him from McCain,” sophomore Moe Alhuthali said.

Freshman Jacky Negrete said she also supports Obama for his ability to engage all voters.

“It is so rare to find a political leader that takes the time to reach out and inspire young voters,” Negrete said.

But with the recent financial banking crisis toppling Wall Street, many students like junior Jullian Summers say that McCain’s conservative economic views should be the guiding light through these though financial times.

“I feel that McCain is the best candidate to fix this financial crisis our country is facing and lead it back to the economic and financial leader in the world,” Summers said. “I believe in his free market laissez-faire approach.”

Before the Nov. 4 election, the nine undecided students will have to make up their minds, looking to various sources like the televised debates for help. The presidential debates, including last Friday’s, center on topics like foreign policy, the economy and domestic policy, with a vice presidential debate scheduled for Oct. 2.

Many students say the debates are a good venue for the candidates to get their policies and platforms out in the open for the American people.

“I think the debates can have a changing effect on people,” sophomore Linwood Fields said. “It provides a first hand look at candidates and how they plan to help people.”

Whether students have their minds made up or not, they must be registered to vote before the Nov. 4 election. Registration for Texas residents ends Oct. 6.

SMU Crowd Says McCain Won Debate

September 29, 2008 by · Comments Off 

By David Crawford

An SMU audience declared Sen. John McCain the winner of the first 2008 presidential debate between McCain and Sen. Barack Obama Friday at a campus gathering sponsored by the SMU speech and debate program.

The event, held at the O’Donnell Lecture and Recital Hall in Meadows Auditorium, was open to a general audience and was free of charge.

After the presidential debate aired, the audience of about 50 people sounded off on which candidate was more factual and who seemed to have an edge over the other.

The audience voted 31 to 15 that McCain won the debate, with four people changing their minds in favor of McCain by the end of the debate. One attendee reported switching in favor of Obama while three changed their minds to undecided.

Once the televised debate concluded in Oxford, Miss., pairs of SMU debate students defended their respective nominees. First-years Alex Ehmke and Al Young represented McCain, while juniors Deanna Vella and Brittany Ross spoke in favor of Obama.

“I prefer a candidate who actually addresses the issues, who sticks to his fundamental values and looks toward experience for change,” Ehmke said. “McCain did a good job of saying how we’re going to change rather than just what we’re going to change.”

This was disputed by Ross who said Obama’s plans “are more realistic and can be more quickly accomplished than McCain attacking each issue individually.”

“Obama wants to multitask, as every issue relates to one another, and every issue can yield better results if fixed by a well-balanced man,” Ross said.

The room was filled with cheers and jeers for both candidates during the debate, as the audience reacted to the candidates’ one-liners and strong words, such as when McCain called Obama “naive” and Obama overruled McCain’s facts and strategies in foreign affairs.

Prior to the debate, a panel of SMU faculty experts, led by SMU Forensics Professor Ben Voth, delivered their analyses and what the public should expect from the candidates.

“This debate is more than just a debate,” Voth said. “The candidates are trying to make themselves look presidential and prepared to lead the free world, while displaying how the other candidate is under qualified for the position.”

The intended focus of the debate was the senators’ goals pertaining to foreign policy and national security, specifically the war in Iraq and the recent tension in eastern Europe with Russia invading Georgia. The candidates also devoted extended time to economic issues.

Chris Salinas, assistant director of the Forensics program, said he believes that even though millions of people watched the debate, the candidates will have to be very convincing to get voters to change their minds.

“Not a great amount of the population will be persuaded,” Salinas said. “About 80 percent of them have their minds already made up and are looking for the candidates to solidify their opinions on what they already believe.”

The local debate was enhanced by the appearance of debate team members from Wiley College, a historically black liberal arts college from Marshall, Texas, whose rich debate history was portrayed in the 2007 film “The Great Debaters”. For the Wiley debaters, along with coach Shannon LaBove, the SMU event was a first step in reviving the status of the debate team, which has not formally competed in more than 60 years.

“It’s so important to have a setting where everyone can debate,” Labove said. “We are part of the process and we all have ideas about situations the nation is in.”

SMU Forensics will host three more debate watch events, beginning Thursday with the first vice presidential debate. The remaining two presidential debates are scheduled for Oct. 7 and Oct. 15. All debate watch events begin at 7 p.m. in O’Donnell Hall.