Facebook groups for candidates gaining support

Elise Foley

As the U.S. presidential primary campaigns continue to ramp up, Northwestern’s student Democrats have begun to divide themselves in support of various candidates, while their Republican counterparts have been less vocal about the candidates they support.

At the beginning of the quarter, Weinberg senior Margot Locker formed a Facebook group, Northwestern for Hillary, with a friend to support Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

“Youth outreach was a huge part of the last campaign, and it’s going to be a big part of this campaign,” Locker said. “We’re trying to get the word out for Hillary in Illinois and at Northwestern.”

Locker said she has supported Clinton (D-N.Y.) since she first became involved in politics.

“It’s so silly, it’s 2007 and we haven’t had a woman president,” she said. “With most of her policies, I am completely on board. What she values is what I do, too.”

The group plans to have meetings soon for fellow Clinton supporters, and will be involved in a national event for the campaign later this month, Locker said. Her Facebook group had three members as of Monday evening.

Medill sophomore Peter Budoff is involved in NU’s chapter of the Students for Barack Obama group for Illinois’ junior senator.

“I’ve always had a little bit of an interest in politics, and I recognized that Obama was really a candidate that could change the way American politics is run,” Budoff said. “He was just the type of candidate that would inspire me to get involved in politics.”

The group has not held general meetings or events, but they plan to soon, Budoff said. For now, he said, they collect contact information from students interested in Obama and give the information to campaign headquarters.

As of Monday evening, the Northwestern University Students for Barack Obama group on Facebook had 140 members.

Weinberg senior Gabriel Weil recently started a group to support Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.), another Democratic presidential candidate. He said he worked for Biden’s campaign over the summer and hopes to find other interested students to volunteer there over winter break. The “Biden for President” Facebook group had one member as of Monday.

Republican candidates have had less support at Northwestern – at least on Facebook. Ron Paul is the only candidate with an NU Facebook group and as of Monday it had two members.

College Republicans Vice President James D’Angelo said it is difficult to form specific groups for each candidate because NU is mostly Democratic.

“There’s no one that people want to rally behind yet,” the Communication junior said. “But also, there aren’t really enough people to divide into separate groups for each candidate.”

D’Angelo said the College Republicans will support all the Republican candidates until the primaries are finished, with bus trips to visit different campaigns in upcoming weekends.

The College Democrats are also supporting their party’s campaign efforts without endorsing a specific candidate, said Ryan Erickson, the group’s president.

“What we try to do instead is to provide everyone in our organization every possible way they can to get involved in a campaign of their choosing,” the Weinberg junior said. “It’s a fantastic way to get involved in a campaign and experience it first hand.”

The College Democrats will become more involved in campaigning when an official Democratic candidate is named, Vice President of Administration Lily Becker said.

“Once there is a candidate chosen, we will be putting our full light behind them,” the Weinberg junior said. “We’ll be trying to bus people to different places to canvas and do voter registration.”

Students who want to get involved in the upcoming election should research the candidates or join one of the groups, Erickson said.

“The easiest way overall is to join one of these groups, but it’s definitely not the only way,” he said. “You can reach out to the campaign you’re interested in, or some have internships. They may not be glamorous jobs, but they are a good way to get involved and learn more about the candidate.”

Reach Elise Foley at [email protected]