Stanford students flocked to polls and watch parties on Super Tuesday, joining voters in California and 13 other states in choosing among five remaining candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Many Stanford students and community members did not have to travel far to do so: Voters registered or intending to register in Santa Clara County could cast a ballot on the second floor of Tresidder Union.
“Not a lot of people here are gonna go for Uncle Joe“
Students waiting to vote in Tresidder Union’s Oak Room on Tuesday afternoon predicted a strong showing for Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) among Stanford students voting on campus.
“Not a lot of people here are gonna go for Uncle Joe [Biden],” said a student from Virginia, who added that he was waiting to register as a California voter after his Virginia absentee ballot failed to arrive in the mail.
Pat Hughes, a third-year philosophy graduate student who spent Tuesday afternoon tabling for Sanders in White Plaza with Stanford Students for Bernie, also predicted a Sanders win in Santa Clara.
“This is a college campus, so I think it is deeply progressive here,” Hughes said. “Most people are Warren or Bernie supporters, and in my experience canvassing on campus, there are a ton of Bernie supporters here.”
Some Sanders supporters on campus hoped to cash in on last-minute defections by would-be Warren voters seeking a “more electable” candidate.
Gabe Boyd ’23 said he had been deciding between Sanders and Warren, but ultimately chose Sanders due to electability concerns.
“It’s almost certain that Warren will not win the nomination,” Boyd said. “I think it’s important for the more liberal wing of the party to unify behind Bernie and present arguments as to why a more progressive candidate would be better for America and more electable than more moderate candidates.”
Still, despite the best efforts of the Stanford Students for Bernie tablers, Warren loyalists abounded in the queue outside the vote center Tuesday afternoon.
While he waited to enter the voting room, a Warren supporter in the class of 2020 said that he would vote for Warren despite her lackluster performance in early primary states.
“California splits up [its delegate allowance], and in terms of the number of delegates needed to secure the nomination, it’s not that far off at this point,” he said, pointing out that the differences in current delegate counts between the top three candidates are a mere fraction of the total number needed to secure the nomination. “I understand that she’s kind of behind, but I think the primary is a time when you can vote for the candidate you really prefer.”
Cardinal for Warren Chapter Lead Chloe Stoddard ’21 wrote in a statement to The Daily that she encouraged voters to vote based on their convictions, not perceived electability.
“If we continue to worry about electability in the primaries, we will continue the status quo of people who look the same and have the same ideas that perpetuate systems of oppression,” Stoddard wrote.
Stoddard wrote that the Warren campaign would serve as an inspiration for future women.
“Although Warren is not projected to receive the nomination, I am incredibly proud of the effect that this campaign has undoubtedly had, not only on progressive politics but also for what it means for women who would like to run for elected office,” Stoddard wrote.
Voters considering more moderate candidates had fewer choices on Tuesday than they had only a week ago. Recent campaign suspensions by Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar forced some voters to make a game-day selection among the five remaining candidates.
A junior who self-identified as a committed Buttigieg supporter said he planned to leave his decision to the last minute, although he would not vote for Sanders.
“I was planning to vote for Pete, but when he dropped out I decided to vote for the most viable candidate that is not Bernie Sanders, since I’m really concerned about how a Sanders nomination would affect down-ballot races,” he said, adding that he would make a decision as he crossed the threshold into the voting booth, based primarily on which non-Sanders alternative was polling most strongly at that moment.
No second chance for absentee voters
Some supporters of Buttigieg, Klobuchar and other candidates who announced campaign suspensions within the last several weeks found themselves unable to throw their support behind another candidate, having cast absentee ballots days or weeks in advance of election day.
Patrick Monreal ’22, a California resident and Daily staffer who voted absentee for a candidate that recently dropped out of the nomination contest, said he was disappointed to have cast “a wasted ballot.”
“This whole primary cycle has been disappointing,” Monreal said. “If I had my way, Governor [Jay] Inslee would still be on the ballot, and now the candidate I settled on dropped out after I mailed in.”
A senior who voted absentee for Buttigieg in Massachusetts said she considered the sunk vote in a different light.
“I don’t feel frustrated now that Pete’s dropped out, because for me it felt good to concretely show my support all the way through the end,” she said. “Voting for him, in a way, was an act of hope, and I think you can say the same for many of the other candidates.”
Results roll in at The Arbor
As in-person voters made their selections at the Tresidder Union Vote Center in its final hours of activity, an Associated Students of Stanford University-sponsored (ASSU) watch party was just heating up downstairs.
The watch party, which was co-sponsored by the Office of the President, drew more than 100 students to Treehouse and The Arbor with the promise of free burritos, beer, a large screen displaying color-coded exit poll maps and a steady stream of pundit commentary. Watch party-goers crowded into picnic table benches to watch live tallies of incoming results punctuated by candidate speeches.
Despite a fragmented primary process that Rossella Cerulli ’20 characterized as “pretty toxic” and as having “brought out a lot of bad feelings within the Democratic Party,” a consensus prevailed across candidate camps at the watch party: Tuesday’s outcomes are important, but not determinative. Democratic primary voting is over in California, but for Democrats committed to taking back the White House in November, the most important work is yet to come, regardless of who eventually secures the nomination.
Boyd emphasized that though he ultimately settled on Sanders, he “will vote for whoever the Democrat is come November.”
“I think a victory over Trump is contingent not on whether Bernie or Biden gets the nomination, but rather how well Democrats can unify after a nominee is put forth,” Boyd said.
Cerulli, who was a freshman during the 2016 presidential election cycle, said she was heartened by the increased political engagement on campus this election cycle.
“I remember the atmosphere on campus surrounding the 2016 election,” Cerulli said. “I’m gratified to see a much different sense of engagement this time, as well as a real increase in the substantive political discussions going on.”
“I voted for the candidate who excited me most,” she added. “I hear other students saying the same thing about their choices. This sense of personal excitement and investment in the process really matters and makes me optimistic.”
Contact Jackie O’Neil at jroneil ‘at’ stanford.edu.