Ahead of next week’s New York primaries, Harvard’s Democratic student groups hope to gain momentum as they continue their phone bank efforts for upcoming primary states.
The Harvard Democrats’ Campaigns Committee, which is not affiliated with a particular presidential candidate, has focused its attention on uncontested primaries in local elections, while presidential candidate subgroups—like Harvard Students for Bernie and Harvard Students for Hillary—have continued support for their candidates, Democrats President Susan X. Wang ’17 said.
“The Dems collectively haven’t been doing much primary campaigning because we leave that to the subgroups,” she said. “We’ve been focused on more local campaigns where there aren’t two democrats running against each other.”
Going forward, the Harvard Democrats will focus on making sure all students on campus are registered to vote in Massachusetts or in their home state for the general election.
In the last seven primary elections and caucuses, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has defeated former Secretary of State Hillary R. Clinton, in some cases winning by a double digit margin. This surge in wins for Sanders has led to a continued interest in the election, which Wang considered “exciting.”
Despite Sanders’s recent victories, turnout for Harvard Students for Bernie’s events has dwindled after the Massachusetts and New Hampshire primaries when students were able travel to the states and meet with voters in person.
Sanders supporters are gearing up for the New York primaries, where Clinton, a former Senator from New York, leads polls by 14 percent, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Bernie supporters have “definitely been making a concerted effort to recapture that enthusiasm,” Justin G. Curtis ’19, vice president of Harvard Students for Bernie, said.
“As a club, we really talk a lot about the decreased turnout at the phonebanks. But, as a group, we’re not discouraged about Bernie’s chances at securing the nomination,” Alice S. Rossmann ’19, a member of Harvard Students for Bernie, said. “Bernie, himself, has said that he’s going to fight all the way to the nominating convention, and we’re sort of holding that same mentality.”
The organization continues to hold phonebanks every Wednesday, where a group of six or seven students usually meet in what has become a “routine” for the group, according to Curtis.
Harvard Students for Hillary have continued to phone-bank into states with upcoming primaries or caucuses.
“We’ve focused on growing our numbers on campus through social media and through postering,” Michael A. Kikukawa ’17, outreach captain of Harvard Students for Hillary, said.
On campus, the group has diverted its attention to rallying the support of dedicated Clinton supporters who have not previously been involved in the campaign.
According to Kikukawa, several Harvard alumni are now working in Pennsylvania on the Clinton campaign and have made contact with the group on campus.
“We’ve been making phone calls into Pennsylvania because lots of Harvard grads and alumni who are working with the campaign are organizers there,” he said. “Of course, it’s also a very large and competitive state and a general election swing state too, so that is very useful to the campaign if we were to win the primary.”
While she is a Clinton supporter, Wang said she hopes that supporters from both sides will rally around the Democratic nominee, whomever that individual may be.
“The alternative is Ted Cruz or Donald Trump which I think everybody can agree is much worse than their non-preferred Democratic nominee,” Wang said.
—Staff writer Kabir K. Gandhi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @KabirKGandhi.—Staff writer Daniel P. Wood can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @DanWood145
Read more in Metro NewsCity Council Meeting Focuses on Increasing Affordable Housing