In the Super Tuesday contests that will be pivotal in nominating a Democratic candidate, University of Minnesota students spent the final days leading up to Minnesota’s Democratic primary campaigning in student groups.
Although the nomination has not yet been secured, students are certain: their candidates could win, and canvassing and last minute voting efforts might make the difference.
On Minnesota’s ballot are 15 Democratic candidates. Top candidates are former Vice President Joe Biden, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
University groups Students for Bernie and Students for Warren make up a significant pool of student organizers on campus. Sen. Amy Klobuchar and former South Bend Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg suspended their campaigns in recent days, but both had campus student organizations. No student group affiliated with Biden or Bloomberg has formally registered with the University.
Focusing on voter engagement and increasing turnout, members of Students for Bernie spent Tuesday canvassing around East Bank, hitting hotspots like Dinkytown and Coffman Union.
“A lot of [students] have already voted either early or they did it this morning. A lot of people are planning to vote after work,” said Robin Raabe, a University senior and officer with UMN Students for Bernie. “A lot of people were planning to vote but didn’t know how to vote, so I’ve been helping them out.”
Raabe is particularly interested in Sanders’ Medicare for All plan and Green New Deal, issues of concern for many younger people around the county.
“I’ve been really really concerned about the environment since I was a kid. I remember hearing about global warming when I was 10,” Raabe said.
Senior Anna Keltto, who volunteered at Sanders’ rally Monday night, said she thinks it can be a challenge to get freshman to vote because many of them recently moved out of their houses and don’t know they’re eligible at their dorm address.
But she’s hopeful about turnout after primary voting.
“We have a lot of Bernie support, a lot of undecided people, and I would say a mix of people who have been voting for others,” Keltto said.
Students for Warren put up posters and wrote campaign messages in chalk on sidewalks around campus Monday night in last-minute efforts to gain support for the candidate. University freshman Larissa Martin said the late push is an effort to recruit supporters whose candidates have dropped out.
“It’s really important that we get her name out there because a lot of people are now undecided with Pete and Amy dropping out,” Martin said. “A lot of their supporters are looking for another candidate to support and we’re hoping that they support Warren.”
University senior Katie Szarkowicz supported New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker before arriving at Warren as her choice for Super Tuesday. In addition to shared values and detailed progressive policies, Szarkowicz said she wants to see a woman in the White House.
“I just think it’s really hard for women in politics today and I really love that [Warren] is unapologetic about being a woman,” she said. “She really doesn’t care about breaking the conventions that female politicians typically have to face.”
Farrah Mina and Jasmine Snow contributed to this report.