Despite GW’s reputation as one of the most politically active schools in the country, the midterm election cycle has drawn mixed enthusiasm from students on campus, on par with recent polls that suggest student interest in the midterm elections is low.
Only 27 percent of students said they will definitely vote in the Nov. 2 midterm elections, nine percentage points fewer than those surveyed just 11 months ago.
“Last election I was pretty tired of the Republicans and [George W.] Bush’s administration and everything like that,” said Kaden Trifilio , a senior who said he leans Democrat. “But my enthusiasm for politics in general has dwindled over the last couple of years.”
Students said a myriad of reasons have kept them from becoming involved in politics this semester, or from voting altogether. Some said President Barack Obama’s actions while in office have been disappointing, leading to student apathy this election cycle.
“I feel like Obama really rallied the youth vote [in 2008],” junior Lenworth James, Jr., said. “But now due to the fact that he hasn’t done much, or that the media is portraying him as not having done much, the youth, we don’t feel mobilized to vote now.”
Others said that it was an overall disillusionment with national politics that is keeping their enthusiasm low.
“I was incredibly enthusiastic and involved in 2008,” said Jessica Glicker, who said that while she wasn’t eligible to vote at the time, she campaigned for candidate John McCain. “Now I’ve sort of lost interest.”
Glicker said this is the first time she can vote in a national election and she lacks an initiative to have her opinions heard.
“Basically, I just haven’t gotten my absentee ballot figured out,” Glicker said.
Consistent with polls suggesting the number of students planning to vote Nov. 2 is low, many GW students say they don’t feel inclined to cast their ballots Election Day.
Kyle Mackie, a sophomore, said she voted in the 2008 election for Obama and plans to cast her vote for the Democrats again in Tuesday’s election.
“I think [Obama] faced a lot of really hard challenges, and I don’t think that major, major changes could really come in two years,” Mackie said. “I think that people who really listened to him during his campaign understand that real change, especially in the Washington bureaucratic system we have, takes a lot longer than just two years.”
Senior Elizabeth Murphy said she still supports Obama as much as she did two years ago, but understands why the public has become critical of the first-term President.
“I worked on the Hill last year and you can see how frustrating it is how slow everything moves up there,” Murphy said. “I mean, our expectations were higher, but I think he’s done a good job regardless.”
Despite the perceived lack of enthusiasm, the presidents of the College Republicans and the College Democrats said their memberships are still strong.
“You can see people going door-to-door getting more positive responses than we’ve ever gotten before,” said Jake Wolf, the chairman of the CRs. “2008 was such a hard year for us to campaign and this year, you know, it’s fun to win.”
Josh Altman, the president of the CDs, said that despite a loss of momentum since Obama’s campaign two years ago, he is still optimistic about Tuesday’s vote.
“Over three campaign trips and weekend canvasses in Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and Maryland and Virginia, we’ve knocked on almost 10,000 doors,” Altman said. “So we really had an impact, we really had the turnout from the memberships that I think really reflects a continued enthusiasm and a continued support for the President and for the party’s agenda.”
Students weigh in on their feelings about midterm elections
“I was a sophomore
here in 2008, and you
could just feel the energy [over the election], and
you just don’t really feel
it this year.”
Elizabeth Murphy, senior
“I think a lot of people, through [Barack] Obama, were expecting some huge change, and I don’t see much of that. I think most people associated him with change because he just seemed different… But he just carried out the the same as most presidents do.”
Jessica Glicker, freshman
“I mean, one thing about President Bush – even though a lot of people didn’t like him because of the bills he passed and everything – even he was adamant about what he did, he stood by what he did. [Barack] Obama’s very wishy-washy. He should really take a stand.”
Lenworth James, Jr., junior
“I think it’s hard to keep [the enthusiasm] of that election. It was such a popular movement to get swept up in, but I still feel positive about the administration. I think it takes longer than two years to make change and I don’t think it’s time to turn our back on Obama.”
Kyle Mackie, sophomore