February 6, 2023
Ithaca, NY | 32°F


Ithaca grassroot groups unite for Obama

Three Democratic organizers have joined together in Tompkins County to rally up voters for President Barack Obama’s re-election.

Senior Veronica De Cesare sits Tuesday in the Ithaca College Library. De Cesare, along with two other members of the Ithaca community, are starting to rally support for President Obama’s re-election. Michelle Boulé/The Ithacan

Senior Veronica De Cesare, a member of Obama for America 2012 who is responsible for canvassing Ithaca College and its surrounding areas, held a meeting in her Circle Apartment last week to talk about re-election tactics and to celebrate the repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, which prevented openly homosexual and bisexual individuals from serving in the military.
De Cesare, Cornell University senior Brynn Leopold and Robert Chapman, an adjunct instructor at Tompkins Cortland Community College, met in mid-September during a grassroots training course in Syracuse and are working with different strategies to gather support for the president in next year’s presidential election.
Obama for America 2012 is taking action as support around the country dwindles. According to a Gallup poll, the president’s approval rating is 41 percent, just 3 percent above his all-time low. The only president who had a lower approval rating in September of his third year in office was Jimmy Carter in 1979.
De Cesare’s group joined about 50 institutions around the country for an online video conference last week with Obama’s national campaign manager Jim Messina as he talked about the importance of young voters’ support in 2008 and how much it will be needed in 2012.
“As we look forward to the challenges we have left to fight, whether it’s making this country’s policies better to match its principles or whether it’s re-electing the president who believes in that mission with all his heart, we need you to keep fighting with us,” Messina said. “We need to have the back of the president because we know he has ours.”
After Obama’s victory over Sen. John McCain in 2008, students who supported Obama gathered above Textor Hall chanting Obama’s catch phrase “Yes We Can” and singing “God Bless America.”
According to a poll by the National Election Pool, which averages polls conducted by different institutes and news outlets, 66 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds who voted in the 2008 election voted for Obama. Another poll done by the Current Population Survey, which is affiliated with the U.S. Census Bureau, showed that 18 to 24-year-olds were the only age group that showed a significant increase from 2004 in voting presence with a 2 percent increase from 47 to 49 percent.
De Cesare reiterated some of the points about the importance of taking action from the video conference with Messina.
“The Republican primary is on its way, and they’re always on the news, and they’re having debates and in the public view,” De Cesare said. “The president is still the president and he’s got to do his job and doesn’t really have this time to campaign per se. So it’s important to reach out to individuals and campaign on his behalf.”
Sophomore Joey Kaz, secretary for IC Republicans, said the organization has not started concentrating on the 2012 presidential election. He said the group’s primary focus is Ithaca’s mayoral race.
“We’re planning to do something for next semester involving [canvassing for the Republican presidential candidates],” Kaz said. “Just this week, we are locally supporting Janis Kelly, who is running for mayor.”
Kelly will be running against Democratic candidate Svante Myrick for mayor of Ithaca. The Ithaca College Republicans are helping out at a fundraising dinner this weekend put on by the Tompkins County Republican Party.
Leopold is the official grassroots coordinator for Cornell’s campus. She said rallying for Democrats is important to counter grassroots efforts from the right side of the political spectrum.
Leopold interned at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee during the midterm elections last year and though the Republicans won the majority from the Democrats in the House of Representatives, she said, she learned that organizing for candidates can make a difference.
“It’s still fairly early in the campaign, but what we’re focusing on right now is developing relationships with people on campus,” Leopold said.
Chapman is responsible for drumming up support from the other towns near Ithaca.
He said this election, however, is different from the 2008 election.
“I would say there was a cultural movement behind Obama in ’08,” Chapman said. “The spontaneous kind of movement that erupted in 2008 probably can’t be duplicated, so now we’re doing it the old-fashion way. We’re doing the door-to-door, the outreach, getting people energized.”