Bush re-elected in close race

Maria Brachelli

At 11:02 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 3, a phone call to the White House ended the country’s debate and waiting when Kerry conceded the 2004 election to President Bush. For many, Tuesday made for a late evening of watching television, and a morning spent checking online updates and listening to local radio commentators in anticipation of seeing which candidate would win the Electoral College votes in the essential swing states, particularly Ohio.

Bush’s second term makes him the first presidential candidate since his father’s election in 1988 to win the majority popular vote in an election.

Students became involved in ways unlike previous elections.

“I think the turnout this year really reflected the issues,” Dr. David Barrett of the Political Science department said. “There was a lot of passion – pro-Bush and anti-Bush, and a lot of passion about the war.”

Senior Joe Valerti said, “I think students are almost as evenly split as the rest of the country; so, although their votes are important, they won’t swing the election drastically in either direction.”

Dr. Matthew Kerbel of the Political Science department, took a different position.

“Young voters were among John Kerry’s strongest supporters,” he said. “Had more young voters gone to the polls, he would have been in a more competitive position.”

“Looking at the polls Tuesday, especially the exit polls, and even a day before, my best bet was that the national popular vote would be a virtual tie, and I thought Kerry would barely win in the Electoral College,” Barrett predicted, thus illustrating the significance of all the swing states in this election.

Freshman Matt Calabro ventured out as a first time voter because, “Every vote counts.” Calabro was one of many students who took advantage of the shuttles offered through Campus Activities Team and Student Government Association, which ran every half hour from South and West campuses on Tuesday after 11 a.m. until polls closed.

“The shuttle was good, very helpful since I have no other form of transportation,” Calabro said.

It wasn’t until after 11 p.m. on Tuesday that the public truly understood the meaning of “Every Vote Will Count,” as emphasized by the Democratic vice presidential candidate, John Edwards, when provisional votes were under debate in Ohio.

Senior Morgan Kinkead also voted for the first time.

She said, “There is so much at stake. Now is the time to exercise my right to vote. These current issues will impact my future tremendously, terrorism, social security, education, both in the near and long term. I waited a wicked long time, approximately and hour and 10 minutes beginning at 7:15 a.m.”

MTV News and correspondent Suchin Pak were among the crowd going to and from the polls on West campus early on election day. Junior Dan Najjar was interviewed and included in MTV report on television about student voting.

“I mentioned that I was in the middle for a while, undecided about who to vote for,” Najjar said, adding that Pak asked why he decided to vote as he did. “The whole war thing-that was a genuine issue of interest for me,” he responded during part of the four-minute interview.

While there was never an empty bus, the shuttles were not as heavily used as expected.

“The impression I got from the College Democrats and Republicans [was that they] had registered over 1,000 people. Does that mean that all these students didn’t vote? I don’t think so,” said Maura McDaid, Assistant Director of Student Development. She said many students, especially those from West campus, went to the polls themselves and with friends, lessening the necessity for the shuttles.

McDaid said she knows of only 20 complaints of students having trouble voting. Most were due in part to not receiving their voter registration cards in time, as Delaware County sent out approximately 5,000 voter registration cards late last week. One registered student submitted a provisional ballot when she ran into trouble at the polls. The status of her provisional ballot will be determined within the next few days.

Despite efforts of MTV and other campaigns focused on students, and collegiate institutions across the country, “turnout among young people was the same as it was in 2000,” Kerbel said. “This was a surprise to many observers, considering the concerted efforts by Rock the Vote and others to get young people to the polls.”

Dr. Robert Maranto of the Political Science department said he saw the way voters view the presidential candidate as problematic.

“To a lot of Democrats, Bush is evil, and to a lot of Republicans, Kerry is evil,” he said. “These guys aren’t Osama bin Laden. I think that’s very unhealthy for the country. But, it’s also very good for voter turnout.”

“One thing that may be positive is that Bush is very action-oriented. He doesn’t want to sit there and watch; he has an agenda. Most second term presidents don’t – they have done everything they wanted in the first term,” he continued.

Maranto added that besides the war in Iraq, he feels Bush will focus on the issues of Social Security and taxes in his upcoming four years.

“There is a possibility of some positive changes being made.”