Courtesy of STEPHEN BRONSKILL
More than 70 AU students campaigned in battleground states in the final weeks of the presidential race to inform voters and boost turnout at the polls.
Students, both Republican and Democrat, spread out in battleground areas neighboring D.C. to bolster support for their political candidates.
Members of AU College Republicans and College Democrats cannot canvass as an organization due to restrictions in their charters, so students volunteered through other organizations such as the D.C. Federation of College Democrats.
Several students from AU College Republicans traveled to Virginia to canvass, according Jim Banks, the AU College Republicans political director. Others travelled to the Raleigh–Durham area in North Carolina to boost support for Republican gubernatorial candidate Pat McCrory.
Early on, canvassing focused on surveying voter opinions, conducting questionnaires and distributing campaign literature to undecided voters ahead of the election, said Joshua Kaib, president of AU College Republicans and a junior in the Kogod School of Business.
In the final weeks before Election Day, the focus shifted to motivating voters to make their way to their local polling station.
“A lot of people say we just live in D.C. But we’re right by Virginia, which is a big battleground,” Kaib said.
Banks and Kaib encountered some areas that were Republican-friendly, while others had more swing voters that presented a greater challenge.
“Josh got all of the good houses in one day, and I got all the bad ones,” Banks said. “It’s never just about knocking on someone’s door and saying hello. There’s always more of a plan behind it.”
Democratic students canvassed in states including Ohio, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, according to College Democrats Vice President Rachel Mariman, a junior in the School of International Service and the School of Public Affairs.
Mariman canvassed in Virginia Beach, Va., in the last week of October, returning to D.C. just before Hurricane Sandy’s arrival.
“Every door you knock on is one vote closer to victory,” said Tripp Frank, a sophomore in SPA.
Frank, a Democrat who canvassed in Canton, Ohio in early October, emphasized grassroots voter outreach as a key part of campaigning.
“Knocking on doors and making phone calls,” Frank said, “makes or breaks a campaign.”