Republican students campaign hard for Romney victory in Ohio

While canvassing Republican homes that have a history of not voting, Owensboro sophomore Maggie Goldsberry gets the approval of Cincinnati resident Susan Velichko who is relying on Romney for small businesses. “I work three jobs and am counting on him to keep me in business,” said Velichko. “My husband, however, is not Republican and we can’t talk because it just gets too crazy.”

Ella Burnside

Cincinnati — For seven Republican students campaigning for presidential candidate Mitt Romney in Ohio over the weekend, the stakes were high.

With four days until the election and Romney down several points in Ohio polls, local Republican campaign offices in the Cincinnati region looked to get as many voters out to the polls as possible on Nov. 6, and they were looking to WKU students to help.

Timothy Gilliam, a graduate student from Bowling Green and the Republican group’s chaperone, drove the student volunteers around town as they went door to door, encouraging Republican residents who don’t always make it to the polls to get out and vote for Romney.

This concentrated effort, called micro-targeting, is used by both parties to increase voter participation during elections.

Bowling Green senior Jon Carter, one of the participants, said micro-targeting was the best way to get unreliable voters to the polls. He said by targeting low propensity voters who are registered with the party backing Romney, it is more likely to get him votes, whereas an effort to mobilize everyone to vote might not bring about the desired results.

“I just know that this is an important election and I want to make sure people are informed and that they get out there to the polls,” Carter said.

Saundra Ardrey, political science department head, has taken groups of students on political and campaign related trips in years past. This year she wanted to get a group of Republicans and Democrats from the political science department out to the swing state.

Gilliam, who ran the Republican victory office in Bowling Green during the 2010 election in support of Rand Paul and current Warren County state senator Mike Wilson, began planning the trip with Ardrey in August.

As they went door-to-door the student volunteers answered three questions: Was the person home? Does the resident plan to vote? And what time of day are they planning to go to the polls? The answers were recorded in booklets turned back in to the victory office at the end of each day.

Several of the students said the people were open to talking with them and that they were going to vote for Romney on Election Day. Other students received negative responses from voters who were frustrated with the constant campaigning that has been going on in the state for the last several months.

Owensboro sophomore Maggie Goldsberry said that some of the people whose doors she knocked on were rude to her, closing the door in her face as soon as they realized she was there about the election.

All the students in attendance felt the importance of Ohio in the national election.

Bowling Green senior Poorvie Patel said she was motivated to join the group because Ohio is a huge swing state that has a large number of electoral votes which are often critical to a presidential candidate’s election.

“Because Ohio is so close to Kentucky I felt that it was important for all of us to come up here and campaign,” Patel said.

Gilliam said Ohio is filled with dense political activity with it being a swing state, which he said is beneficial to the students on the trip.

“It’s a valuable experience for students to see how elections are won and lost rather than to simply watch it on cable news,” Gilliam said.