The College Republicans rallied last weekend in Pittsburgh, Pa., for Mark Harris, a 2006 graduate and candidate for state representative of Pennsylvania’s 42nd district.
With Election Day approaching quickly, the College Republicans, as well as the College Democrats and GW Democrats, have each stepped up their campaigning efforts and traveled to several states.
“Pennsylvania wants change, and Mark is the candidate to do that,” said Gary Livacari, chairman of the College Republicans. “We will be there to help him win a great victory.”
The College Republicans offer members at least one campaign event each weekend. In the past month, the CRs have supported Republican candidates including Sen.Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), Sen. George Allen (R-Va.), Harris and Michael Steele, a candidate for a U.S. Senate seat in Maryland.
“We’ve actually had to turn down campaign offers,” said Peter Glessing, director of public relations for the CRs. “We’re just too busy, and can’t meet the demand.”
The Republican National Committee and the D.C. Federation of College Republicans help fund these campaign trips.
“They tell us where and when to go – all costs assumed,” Livacari said. “This is not always the case, but outside help generally shoulders the (financial) burden.”
The organization has also brought many speakers to campus, including Anne Coulter last February, but the group maintains that campaigning is its first priority.
“Yes, as CRs we bring in speakers, but when it comes to elections, it is our job to spread and promote the Republican vote,” Livacari said. “Our grassroots work is not always glamorous, but it is vital.”
This year CRs are offering members a chance to work for the RNC 72-Hour Task Force, a last-minute event that takes place throughout the country to help spread the vote for Republican candidates just before the polls open.
“For people looking to have a place in the party, this is the place to start,” Livacari said. “This year we’re going to be all over the place.”
The College Democrats have also been campaigning in preparation for Nov. 7.
“We focus on the final weeks leading into the election so that we can generate large turnout for our organized trips and maximize our resources”, said Sean Smith, the CDs’ president.
The CDs have supported several candidates this year including the Ben Cardin, who is running against Steele, and the Maryland Coordinated Campaign, which works for all the state’s Democratic candidates.
“We will be traveling to Virginia to campaign for Jim Webb and Pennsylvania to campaign for Bob Casey,” Smith said.
He added that the organization tends to support the campaigns with outcomes that are critical to the Democratic party’s goals.
“We predominately choose to help the campaigns in which our membership has the most interest. We also take into consideration our financial circumstances when putting together organized campaign trips,” Smith said.
He stressed the importance of voter participation, particularly the participation of students, adding that CD members largely help to bring out voters in areas with statistically low voter participation.
“When individuals are asked by students to vote, they feel empowered and are more likely to go to the polls on Election Day,” Smith said.
Freshman College Democrats member Emily Brooks said she is planning to participate in the grassroots efforts for the Cardin campaign.
“Going door to door, making phone calls, it all makes a difference,” Brooks said. “It’s the kind of experience people need to be a part of – they see that what they are doing really does make a difference.”
The GW Democrats, a new organization, has also been actively campaigning for democrats in races like the D.C. Mayoral race, the Maryland State House race, the Maryland Senate race, the Virginia Congressional race, the Pennsylvania Congressional race and the Virginia Senate race.
“In October, we will campaign three out of the four weekends. It is critical for our organization and the College Democrats to give student democrats this great grassroots experience and contribute to capturing Congress,” said GW Democrats President Arman Tarzi, a senior.
Though many scholars and campaign strategists believe the youth vote is a vital component to winning an election, Tarzi said he thinks the role of students in elections has been decreasing.
“The youth factor that tipped the balance in the Civil Rights movement, (the factor) that protested for nearly a decade to end the war in Vietnam … College students who took a semester off to go to the South and participate in sit-ins – we don’t have that anymore.”