Geneseo students of a wide array of political backgrounds gathered Tuesday night to watch the results of over 20 Democratic and Republican primaries unfold, and to discuss the importance of Super Tuesday.
Professors Jeffrey Koch of the political science department and Bill Cook of the history department led a discussion organized by Niagara Hall Resident Assistants Dan Meehan and Michelle Esposito. The discussion revolved largely around the history of Super Tuesday and the possible outcomes of the 2008 election.
This year stands out among others, according to Cook, because it is usually earlier in campaign when it becomes clear to the American public whom the Democratic and Republican candidates will be.
"This is a new world for an old thing," said Cook.
Even after many states have held their primary elections, none of the candidates have secured an edge.
The Republicans are facing a split among Sen. John McCain of Ariz., former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.
"[The Democrats] are looking at two kinds of ice cream, and they really like both," said Cook about New York Sen. Hillary Clinton and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama.
On the Democratic side, students at the event watched Obama carry Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota and Utah. Clinton took Arizona, Arkansas, California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma and Tennessee. New Mexico results are unofficial, and Clinton currently holds a slight lead.
For the Republicans, McCain won Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Missouri, New Jersey, New York and Oklahoma. Huckabee pulled off Alabama, Arkansas,
Georgia, Tennessee and West Virginia. Romney came away with Alaska, Colorado, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota and Utah.
The results give McCain a sizeable lead for the Republican nomination. Although the race is not over, he called himself the "frontrunner" while addressing supporters Tuesday night. Clinton and Obama remain close on the Democratic side, with many pundits are predicting that the Democratic race will not be determined any time soon. Koch was pleased with student turnout at the event, which numbered around 40.
"Even though students are busy, it's nice to see them interested in the election," he said.
Koch's observation has proved true: According to CBS News, voter turnout among 18- to 29-year-olds was up to record levels in the primaries. Youth-voter turnout has gone up consistently since hitting record lows in 2000. Many pundits believe that the youth vote actually helped turn some states in Obama's favor. In New York, even though Clinton carried the state, Obama received 58 percent of the youth vote to Clinton's 40.
"Obama stands for change," said freshman Michael Barbetta. "While he may be unclear at times, I feel he will hold to his policy of bringing about necessary change."
Not all Geneseo students made it to the polls, however.
"I didn't vote because I am largely undecided and don't know enough about the candidates," said sophomore Breanna Villane.
Many of the students who attended the event on Tuesday were political science majors or previous students of the two speakers. Koch said that motivation to be politically active comes from the students.
"I don't preach," he said. "It's really about self-selection."
One student, freshman Aaron Davis, was particularly impressed with the event.
"I really learned a lot from the professors, because I didn't really know much about the history of Super Tuesday," he said.
Koch will be offering an introductory political science course, "Full Political Participation in Politics" in the fall of 2008, providing an opportunity for students to become more politically aware.