Duke Democrats to participate in Charlotte DNC

Early this September, Duke students will trek to Charlotte to rally their support for President Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention.

The DNC, set to take place September 3 through 6, will not only feature the nomination of Barack Obama as the Democratic presidential candidate, but it will also be an opportunity for the party to win North Carolina votes. Although the University is nonpartisan and does not formally endorse any candidates, many student activists will attend the convention to voice their support, said Christopher Simmons, associate vice president of the office of federal relations.

“We want to show North Carolina and the country that Duke is a politically active campus that is involved in state politics and gives back through local volunteering,” said sophomore David Winegar, president of Duke Democrats.

Winegar and senior Elena Botella, former president of Duke Democrats and current president of College Democrats of NC, will attend the College Democrats of America National Convention in Charlotte, the official youth event at the convention, along with other members of the student organization. Students will volunteer, participate in open events and watch Obama’s acceptance speech at the convention, Winegar said.

Botella was selected to serve as one of the 5,556 delegates that will discuss Democratic party affairs and campaigning and, on the third day of the convention, vote to renominate Obama.

“My primary goal as a delegate will be to ensure that the platform crafted by the Democratic Party reflects what are my core values,” Botella said. “Primarily, my belief that a just society requires that everyone be treated with dignity and provided with opportunity.”

Support for Obama remains strong among the youth of North Carolina despite claims that the incumbent president is losing ground, Botella said.

A June 12 poll conducted by Public Policy Polling found that Obama remains the clear favorite for NC voters aged 18 to 29, leading Romney in the youngest demographic by 16 points.

Such youth support could stem from Obama’s progressive record on issues—such as marriage equality and promoting affordability of college tuition—which are popular with and relevant to young voters, Winegar said.

Volunteer engagement for the Obama campaign in 2012 has so far surpassed the historic levels in 2008, Botella said, adding that support for Obama will increase as the president continues to reach out to moderates in the coming months.

“The work of the Obama campaign and of College Democrats will be to make sure as many students know about Obama’s record as possible,” Botella said.

It will be difficult for students to access the convention without credentials because the Charlotte police will likely bar both protesters and supporters from getting within several blocks, said Michael Munger, professor of political science and economics.

But given that the nominees for both parties have already been determined and publicized, the convention will not serve as much political purpose as it did when it was created, he added.

“We’ve moved democracy from the convention back to January,” Munger said. “For the people at the convention, they can wear funny hats and drink too much.”


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