Primary attracts student voters

Oscar Abello

Riding on shuttles or with volunteer drivers, a steady stream of Villanovans journeyed to the polls on Tuesday for Pennsylvania’s dramatic primary election.

Sen. Hillary Clinton won the Democratic primary, claiming 55 percent of the vote, while Sen. Barack Obama received 45 percent of the vote, according to The New York Times.

In the Republican race, Sen. John McCain won easily with 73 percent of the vote. Ron Paul and Mike Huckabee received the remaining votes.

Following the results of the primary, Obama maintains his lead with 1,719 delegates, but Clinton closed the gap and now has 1,586 delegates, according to These figures include superdelegates.

The Pennsylvania primary received increased national attention this year due to the tight race for the Democratic nomination and the large number of delegates on the line in the Keystone State.

In an effort to encourage student participation in the primary, Director of Student Development Tom Mogan sent an e-mail to the student body on Monday with instructions on where students from each resident hall were to vote. The e-mail also included information about an SGA-run shuttle to polling places.

Villanova’s campus cuts across four polling precincts. This required SGA to maximize use of its official shuttle.

Students for Barack Obama also offered shuttle service.

Despite the four precincts, students showed that they were determined to harness the energy created on campus in the past six weeks on primary day. Many students voted for the first time.

“I think the advertising and awareness on campus has impacted many students,” junior Charity Calloway said on the way to her polling location at Radnor Elementary School. “Seeing and knowing other students care makes a huge difference.”

At Radnor Elementary, a special election also took place for Radnor Township Commissioner.

Challenger Democrat Diane Edbril ran against incumbent Republican Kevin Higgins.

The Villanova student vote was expected to make a huge difference, as 11 of Villanova’s 18 residence halls voted at that location.

Edbril lost by around 100 votes.

“I think our campus has taken a step in the right direction,” first-time voter junior Stacy Pinard said, referring to students’ potential to be a larger voice in the local community. “Especially at this exciting time, with such diverse and dynamic candidates compared with recent years, students are waking up finally.”

Part of that waking-up process has been the activity of new student groups on campus, including Villanovans for Hillary and Villanovans for Obama.

Led by Campus Coordinator senior Cait Taylor, Villanovans for Obama worked on campus and in the local community to help bring out voters.

Part of the group’s efforts on campus included a student roundtable discussion on the topic of voter apathy among students.

Student interest in the primary was increased by on-campus appearances from of all three major campaigns in the past month.

Michelle Obama packed the Jake Nevin Field House, while Chelsea Clinton filled the Belle Air Terrace when she made her 100th stop in her tour of American colleges at Villanova.

Additionally, Sen. John McCain brought out a huge crowd for his appearance on the “Hardball” College Tour in the Pavilion.

Both Obama’s and Clinton’s efforts contributed to the record-breaking number of democrats now registered in Pennsylvania.

For the first time ever, over half the Commonwealth’s eight million registered voters are Democrats, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.

MSNBC reported that over 150,000 voters switched from Republican to Democrat.

With 99 percent of precincts reporting, 2.2 million democrats had voted in the primary, a 55 percent turnout rate, though that was double the absolute turnout rate in the last presidential election.

Now, the candidates will head to Indiana and North Carolina.

Primaries will be held in these states on May 6.

Both Clinton and Obama will continue to campaign for the final delegates needed to claim the nomination.

Other states and territories that have yet to hold their primaries include West Virginia, Kentucky, Puerto Rico, Montana and South Dakota.

The Democratic National Convention will be held from Aug. 25-18 in Denver, Colo.