Analyzing the primary

Allison Bray

Tuesday’s election shows no clear answer for the Democratic Party

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After numerous primaries in multiple states over the past few months, the Democratic Party is seemingly no closer to picking a candidate than it was after Super Tuesday, while the Republican Party has chosen their nominee.

Barack Obama has been building momentum, but his momentum is at least slowed thanks to Hillary Clinton’s Ohio and Texas win. That win is turning Clinton’s momentum in a positive way, after it seemed her campaign may have been waning.

John McCain won the Republican nomination after sweeping all four states holding primaries Tuesday: Ohio, Texas, Rhode Island and Vermont.

Clinton won Ohio with 67 percent of the 60-year-old-plus demographic and just 34 percent of the 17-29 age bracket vote.

Obama collected 65 percent of the 17-29 vote, but just 31 percent of the 60-plus vote. However, the so-called “youth vote” only accounted for 16 percent of total Ohio voters, while the 60-plus vote was 23 percent of total voters.

Clinton’s win in Ohio stopped Obama’s winning streak of 11 straight states and keeps the Democrat nomination hotly-contested.

“It’ll (picking the Democrat nominee) probably come down to the convention in August,” said Patrick Burke, College Democrats president.

Stephen Ontko, president of the College Republicans, said that the Democratic Party will come together once a nominee is chosen, but there may be hard feelings because of the nature of the campaigns.

“The Democrat party will have to overcome a bitter primary race,” he said.

Craig Stephens, chairman of the Portage County Democratic Party, said he hopes once a nominee is picked, the supporters of both Clinton and Obama will come together because the agendas of each candidate are similar.

“I can support either of the two candidates with equal fervor,” he said. “Other than similarities and small nuances, there’s very little difference. And I think that’s a good thing.”

Burke said he didn’t think the Democrats battling each other for the nomination while McCain has already been chosen by the Republicans would be a detriment to the Democrats.

“It shows we have two strong candidates that can carry the party,” he said. “We can now judge who is best to run against (McCain).

Stephens said the extra time McCain has to prepare for November while Clinton and Obama continue to campaign against each other probably won’t give McCain an advantage.

“He can’t change his colors between now and November,” he said. “We know where he is, and we know who he is.”

Ontko said McCain has some catching up to do with his campaign because it almost died during the summer.

“A lot of conservatives don’t think he’s conservative enough,” he said.

However, that could be an advantage, Ontko said, because McCain could attract independent voters since he is considered by some to be on the moderate side.

He said he thinks that while some Republicans do not view McCain as the “ideal candidate,” eventually members of the party will coalesce around him in November.

The youth vote (ages 17-29), which some expected to turn out in large numbers, accounted for just 16 percent of the vote in Ohio according to CNN exit polls.

Burke said he found this statistic to be “appalling and sad.” He said that small percentage comes partially from lack of knowledge, apathy and laziness.

“(It’s) a sad reflection of how our age group is the least active in politics,” Burke said.

Ontko said it can be difficult to get young people to take a lot of positions in general, and even more so in a primary election.

“It’s kind of to be expected in a primary,” he said.

Stephens, however, called the youth vote “commendable.” He said Portage County had the largest number of 17-year-olds asking for ballots than ever before.

“I think there’s more energy than I have seen since I was a student,” he said.

He added that the youth now needs to stay involved in the process.

There has been some talk recently of the possibility of a Clinton-Obama joint ticket for the White House.

Stephens said it is too soon to even talk about who the running mate of the Democrat nominee may be.

“That’s media-driven speculation to have something to say on TV,” Stephens said. “To even speculate who a vice president would be is just silly.”

Burke said that while he did not think such a ticket will happen, it would be good because it would keep the votes in tact.

“I doubt it would happen because they’ve been running a bitter campaign against each other,” he said. “I think it’s all a pipe dream right now.”

Burke said he is not sure who the eventual Democrat nominee will be.

“It’s kind of a toss-up in my mind now,” he said. “I thought it was going to be Obama, but now I’m not sure.”

Ontko said he has concerns if Obama wins the Democratic nomination.

“I think his charisma and style will be hard to contend with,” he said. “To me, it’s not a matter of the issues that’s guiding the election.”

However, he said Clinton would not be such a severe opponent against McCain because she is a polarizing figure and independents may vote for McCain over Clinton.

“Clinton still has to prove herself,” Ontko said. “The only thing she has proved is that she can be a thorn in Obama’s momentum.”

Stephens said come November, the state of Ohio will vote for a Democrat.

“I think Ohio, with its economic problems brought on by the Bush administration, and the issue of Iraq, whether it is Clinton or Obama, will vote Democratic.”

Contact public affairs reporter Allison Bray at [email protected].