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Sunday, May 31, 2020

Activities & Organizations

College Democrats prepare for coming blue wave


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The College Democrats support a number of down-ballot candidates in Houston, including Kim Ogg, pictured above. | Courtesy of the College Democrats

Born from the momentum of Obama’s reelection in 2012, UH College Democrats is a relatively new organization, but has made a significant footprint on campus and beyond.

The local branch of the national organization College Democrats — not to be confused with Young Democrats — actively works with local candidates and officials on campaigns. Through countless block walks, phone banks, rallies and watch parties, the group has increased its presence in the Houston political scene.

“We’ve made it a point to stay away from just rubbing shoulders and taking pictures and really getting out the doors and on the phones,” said political science senior John Seydler, College Democrats president.

Intense campaigning

Throughout its short history, College Democrats has hosted several high-profile guest speakers and worked with large-scale campaigns. Notable names include former Sen. Wendy Davis, Sen. John Whitmire and Kim Ogg, who is the Democratic district attorney nominee in Harris County.

“Students talk to them face-to-face (so) when they see their name on the ballot they can put a face to it,” said human resource management junior Daisy Salazar, vice president of the College Democrats.

Like any student organization, College Democrats works to inspire future leaders — especially in a political group where students may want to work in the business or run for office themselves. Members can have meaningful conversations on a topic that is often uncomfortable to discuss with strangers.

“We’re doing what really needs to be done,” Seydler said. “Talking to voters.”

Economics senior Cameron Barrett is a numbers’ man. The self-described “data analyst” for College Democrats predicts that Hillary Clinton will win the election with around 49 percent of the popular vote.

The College Democrats registered more than 1,000 students to vote before the Oct. 19 state deadline, a feat they called significant headway.

“There’s no way that Texas will be a swing state in this election or even in the next one,” Barrett said. “I can see Texas maybe being a swing state in 2024.”

That all depends, of course, on the “sleeping giant” that is the Latino vote. Though Latinos typically vote conservatively, the current rhetoric of the Republican Party and its candidate threatens to turn the simple majority of Texans blue.

With the election neck-and-neck in a reliably red state, Seydler and his Democrats are taking the opportunity to mobilize a volunteer base that might be surprised to know how, this time, every vote really could count.

“When they say that, they mean that it is within the margin of error,” Barrett said, quick to point out that Texas is not really a “swing state” as such.

Only time will tell, however, as poll results all over the world can be wrong — most notably with Brexit. With scandals surfacing in the campaign cycle’s last days, there is an air of healthy skepticism and hopeful optimism on both sides that maybe the controversy of one will ruin the other.

“Normally, I’m skeptical of polls,” Seydler said. “But (Texas becoming a blue state) is within reach.”

For Election Day

On the night of the most contentious and controversial election in memory, the official youth branch of the Democratic Party at UH has appropriately ambitious plans.

“We’ll be doing a myriad of different things,” Seydler said. “Some are going to be volunteering with candidates at polling locations. Some will be doing last-minute phone banking all the way up until the polls close in both time zones.”

Time zones aren’t something people consider when readying themselves for the results of a general election. The U.S. is spread over six time zones, Texas over two, and after the polls close in Houston at 7 p.m. there will still be another hour of campaigning in west Texas.

“We still have a lot of work this next week,” Salazar said. Next Tuesday, the College Democrats will host a joint election result watch party with the College Republicans at Calhoun’s Rooftop.

Salazar said the organization is already looking past the election: They plan to hold forums in the Spring about the results. While College Democrats has not drawn up any legislation, the “big goal” is to focus on the Texas Legislative Session that begins in January.

It’s difficult, if not impossible, to predict who will win on Election Day. The road to 270 electoral votes is paved with doubts and scandals that could turn the election on its head overnight.

With only a few days to go, the public is burned out and ready to move on from the political circus of the past year.

“Whether (Trump) incites a civil war or just accepts that he lost, I’m guessing he’s gonna spend the next four years questioning everything Hillary does,” Barrett said.

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