Campus and Careers

June 2, 2008
If you were in Washington Saturday passing by the Marriott Wardman Park, it sure seemed as if a monumental event was taking place inside. Protesters on Connecticut Avenue held signs with impassioned pleas such as: “People died for the right to vote.” At a rally in the nearby park, more protesters made similar points about the suffrage and civil rights movements via a loudspeaker. Inside the hotel the Democratic National Committee’s Rules and Bylaws Committee was meeting to decide what to do about the delegates in Michigan and Florida, the states that had moved up their primaries against the Democratic Party’s rules and had their results nullified. The committee’s decision to allow the Michigan and Florida delegates to be seated at the Democratic convention (but with the weight of a half vote each) was met with an outcry from Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s supporters. Anyone watching cable news over the weekend knows how charged the atmosphere was in the meeting room. Senator Clinton...
May 30, 2008
Over at The Atlantic, Marc Ambinder highlights the latest Pew Research poll, which includes numbers on college graduates, and those in the 18-29 voting demographic. What isn't surprising is that, as many have assumed, Obama maintains an advantage among young voters. What are, however, are the margins by which he's expanded his lead over McCain over the past few months. After a rough May, which many would concede was his roughest month, Obama increased his lead over McCain to 60-37. Obama, conversely, has lost ground with voters who only have some college or a high school diploma, but only by a bit.
May 27, 2008
Splashed at the Drudge Report this afternoon is news that Republican presidential hopeful Sen. John McCain will give a speech reaching out to the nation's young voters, who have gravitated towards his likely opponent, Sen. Barack Obama. From Drudge, an excerpt: "For much of our history, the world considered the United States a young country. Today, we are the world's oldest constitutional democracy, yet we remain a young nation. We still possess the attributes of youth -- spirit, energy, vitality, and creativity. America will always be young as long as we are looking forward, and leading, to a better world." Stay tuned for more on the speech from this blog.
May 22, 2008
There are a lot of ways to get to know a candidate. There are position papers and advertisements. There are speeches, slogans, and websites. But to really understand what a candidate and a campaign are all about, it’s sometimes best to follow the jet fumes. Now that the primary season is all but over, what do the travel schedules of the presumptive Republican and Democratic nominees, Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama, tell American voters about where they will be headed in the coming months? So far, Senator Obama has been the busier candidate. Since Patchwork Nation started tracking candidate visits Feb. 1, he’s made 217 stops, while Senator McCain has made 132. That’s partly because the longer primary campaign has kept him on the road. The continuing primary race also means that Obama’s schedule has been prescribed – candidates usually have to go where the upcoming contest is. But when the candidates’ itineraries are filtered through Patchwork Nation’s 11 community types,...
May 21, 2008
Another set of Tuesday primaries, another split decision. In Kentucky, Hillary Rodham Clinton pounded Barack Obama by 35 points, 65 percent to 30 percent. In Oregon, Senator Obama beat Senator Clinton by 16 points, 58 percent to 42 percent, a veritable squeaker by the measure of Democratic primary votes recently. But even as the split decisions continue, the end grows nearer with only three primaries left on the Democratic calendar and Obama’s delegate count growing. And Obama’s speech last night – family in tow, conciliatory remarks toward Clinton, hard words aimed at presumptive GOP nominee John McCain – was another sign. Looking at last night’s results through the Patchwork Nation lens only emphasizes what many thought in the days leading up to the two primaries. Oregon is in some ways made for Obama, while Kentucky is clearly made for Clinton. Although none of Obama’s best performing community types, “Industrial Metropolis” and “Minority Central,” are found in the Beaver State...
May 20, 2008
The expectation in professional politics is that those in the entertainment industry tend to support Democrats during elections; this year has been no exception. But what is exceptional about Sen. Barack Obama's support is the almost universal support by bands on heavy rotation on college students' ipods, the same students who are often flocking to support the Illinois senator. Take for example, the much-talked-about 75,000-strong audience at an Obama rally in Oregon this past weekend. One of the most underreported parts of that story was that indie rock darlings (and Oregon natives) The Decemberists, Obama supporters, played a 45-minute set before the senator took the stage. The Decemberists join other college rock bands in their support for Obama. Chris Walla of Death Cab for Cutie, a popular band who just released a new album, "Narrow Stairs," said he feels "positive" about Obama's winning ways. Fellow Chicago natives Wilco have played numerous shows for Obama, including...
May 19, 2008
The results from the Oregon primary will be known Tuesday night, but the votes have been coming in for about two weeks now. In America’s only all vote-by-mail state, Oregonians don’t need to line up at the polls. In fact, if they are sure of their selection, they can return a ballot immediately after receiving it – and some have done that. The Oregon secretary of state has been seeing primary ballots come in since May 4. In a roller-coaster primary season, that could affect the results from the Pacific Northwest Tuesday. Consider that more than 85,000 ballots were returned in Oregon before the results of the Indiana and North Carolina primaries on May 6 were known – that was the night Sen. Barack Obama gained serious momentum. Some 441,000 ballots had been returned before Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s crushing 41-point margin of victory in West Virginia last Tuesday. Those 441,000 ballots would equal about half of the total turnout in Oregon’...
May 18, 2008
I had the virtue of seeing Sen. John McCain's appearances on Saturday Night Live last night as they aired. And, even better, I was fortunate enough to watch the sketches with an impromptu focus group perfect for this blog: my friends, all of whom have recently graduated from college or will do so in the next year. The conventional wisdom on SNL has been a way to reach out to young voters, the "campus and career" types. McCain's late night visit comes after earlier visits by Sens. Obama and Clinton, respectively. The show has also figured prominently in constructing snap-judgement characterizations of candidates (see: George W. Bush's "strategery" and Al Gore's "lockbox"). The McCain appearances, or at least one of them, helped reinforce the caricature of Arizona's senior senator (emphasis on "senior") that seems to have emerged among many college students and young professionals. The first sketch, about McCain's age, played into that. In that, McCain said Americans are looking for...
May 14, 2008
Perhaps one of the strangest phenomena on college campuses this past year was support for Texas Rep. Ron Paul, a libertarian congressman from Texas who is running for the Republican Party nomination. In Ann Arbor this past fall, Paul drew one of the biggest crowds on campus--only behind, really, a pep rally for the Ohio State game and this year's graduation. Indeed, the Ron Paul campaign has become known for its young, strident supporters on college campuses nationwide. The campaign drew in an array of supporters: from antiwar activists to fiscally conservative purists to even some conspiratorial types, who normally seem more given to support a candidate like, well, Lyndon LaRouche. The Paul campaign has more or less fizzled out at this point (though he maintains it continues). But this week, former Republican Congressman Bob Barr (Ga.) announced his candidacy as the Libertarian Party's nominee for president this fall. Barr, a manager of the Clinton impeachment while in the House...
May 14, 2008
Her win was big. The 41-point victory she racked up was not only decisive, it was enormous. And even though there wasn’t a big swing in delegates for her, she did pick up at least a few. Overall, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton had much to feel good about Tuesday night. And no, she’s not giving up. While she just gently poked her opponent Sen. Barack Obama in her victory speech, she again outlined her argument about how she was the better general-election candidate. Senator Obama’s campaign, however, was trying to put a different spin on the night. Obama was not only in a different state, not only in a different time zone, he was campaigning in a different election. He was in Missouri, which held its primary long ago, talking about November and presumptive Republican nominee Sen. John McCain. The goal was to make Senator Clinton’s victory look less like a win against an actual opponent than a pickup game followed by a pep rally on her home court without significance. It was meant to...