Jessica Karmazyn Journal Staff
With the next four years in mind, many Suffolk students hurried to a designated poll place to choose their preferred candidate. On Nov. 6, 2012, the nation made a choice and elected Barack Obama to his second term as president, winning 303-206 in electoral votes.
“I feel it’s definitely a tight election and it’s going to be interesting to see who becomes president,” freshman Christina Pellegrino said prior to the results.
The 2012 election could be considered different from all other elections due to the increase in social media over the last four years. Obama used Facebook during his last campaign to raise money, but now both candidates use Twitter and other forms of social media to connect to all generations that voted. During each presidential debate, Twitter was used as an outlet for students expressing strong political opinions.
“This was the first time I’ve watched all the debates and been into it,” freshman Amanda Kennedy said.
A large amount of students tuned into each debate accompanied by their interests and ideas. Kennedy, an Obama supporter, watched the candidates as they discussed ways to improve the economy for when she graduates.
“Generation Y” has handled this particular election differently in terms of privacy. Many adults do not say who they voted for because of past election etiquette.
“I don’t care enough about politics to give someone a hard time about it,” freshman Joe Presti said.
Pictures of ballots have appeared on Twitter and even Instagram, an app that allows a picture followed by a caption to be edited and posted. The openness of a checked off ballot was once unheard of, but with the trend of “sharing” becoming popular, many first time voters partook in the celebration of being an adult by distributing their opinion to others.
“Tweeting pictures of ballots is another indication that the concept of privacy has changed in this country,” Chair of the Department of Communication and Journalism Robert E. Rosenthal, Ph.D said.
The left and the right came together in dorm settings as Suffolk freshmen discussed their views and their chosen candidate. Sophomores, juniors, and seniors were heard discussing as well, in classrooms and amongst the lounges on campus.
“The openness is a good thing so everyone hears opinions from both sides,” freshman Joe Durkin said, “You have to look at both sides. I’m pretty open-minded.”
An example of Suffolk students who have shared opinions in a healthy way can be seen between Presti and Durkin. Presti, an Obama supporter that did not partake in voting, and Durkin, a Romney supporter who voted and was very involved in the election process, live on the same floor and conversed calmly about their differing views.
“Everyone gets in my face, but no one really knows what they’re talking about,” Durkin said.
Durkin is proud to be a Republican and is very open about his beliefs. Being a first time voter, he described the feeling being fantastic as he made his contribution to the election. Presti, who was more passive about the voting process, did not feel the need to take a trip back home where he was originally registered.
“I want Obama to win, but I am more of an independent, I don’t really have a side,” Presti said.
Many students shared Presti’s opinion on voting and believed their ballot would not make a difference. Other students, who were able to vote for the first time, didn’t think they had enough knowledge to make such a big decision.
Since students are from many different places, absentee ballots have been a common sight on campus. An absentee ballot is a ballot that is completed before the election for voters who could not make it to the polls or are registered in another poll place inconvenient for traveling. Pellegrino’s father, a passionate voting supporter, picked his daughter up by car and drove her a half-hour back home.
“He wanted me to vote there [Andover] so my vote got in and counted for sure,” Pellegrino said, “I voted for the same person as my dad; Obama.”
With both adamant and passive voters on campus, students could not escape the chatter of predictions and opinions.
“I was on the computer for 11 hours the other day just reading. I’m really into it, I don’t know why,” Durkin said.
The debates were projected on a screen in the Modern Theatre along with a Democrat and a Republican representative who, before the showing, made predictions, and after answered questions from the audience. Students participated in these screenings, which helped form opinions for first time voters. Hands were raised to the question of who the audience thought won the debate, and who they thought they would vote for.
“The debates were very important in this race. Governor Romney’s poll numbers improved dramatically after the first debate due to his positive performance and President Obama’s relatively mediocre performance,” Rosenthal said, “Even though the President is considered to have won the next two debates, the first debate gave Romney momentum.”
When asked, many students thought Suffolk voters most likely chose Obama when their ballot was checked. With Obama’s last election moving many young minds, it can be questioned if the same generation stuck with their decision from four years ago.
“I think it would be really scary if Romney won,” Kennedy said.
The importance of voting overshadowed all of the monumental abilities of adulthood for many freshmen. Some students followed in their parents foot steps and voted for the preferred candidate they were told to, while others formed an opinion independently from already formed beliefs, doing research, and listening to the debates.
“It was my first time voting. [It felt] liberating,” Kennedy said, “I guess my voice matters now so it’s good to have a say in it.”
The bitter election ended up being hard fought by both candidates until the end. Initial polls showed the standard assignments of red and blue states that the parties have held onto for decades. Indiana was the first to switch from the last election, choosing Romney rather than swaying Democrat.
Despite the many lead changes nearly every battleground state remained contested up to an hour after the polls closed. Pennsylvania became the first swing state to be decided, with a majority for Obama, with New Hampshire and Wisconsin following suit soon after. By the time Ohio was called for around midnight, the state effectively elected Obama to a second term.
Mitt Romney gave his concession speech about an hour after the crucial state had left his grasp, maintaining a positive view on the electoral process. “I believe in America, I believe in the people of America,” he said to his supporters gathered in Boston. “You gave deeply from yourselves and performed magnificently.”
Barack Obama was stationed in the McCormick Center in downtown Chicago where he gave his victory speech to an energetic crowd. “You reaffirmed the spirit that has triumphed over war and depression,” he said, “we are an American family and we rise and fall together as one nation and as one people.” Obama understood how close the race was for him and was quick to thank all of his supporters and campaign organizers. “Whether you are a voter or not, I have learned from you, I have become a better president because of you.” Nearing the 2 a.m. mark, Obama wrapped up his victory speech saying “tonight you voted for action, not politics as usual. We are greater than the sum of our individual ambitions and we remain more than a collection of red states and blue states.”