Every election day is a historic day for the American people. But for MIT students, did it seem like “just another school day?”
Andrew L. Dorne ’14 described the campus atmosphere on Tuesday as such. “You would hope there would be more excitement,” he said.
At the same time, many MIT students had strong views about the election and got involved by voting or assisting with a campaign.
Many students watched at least part of the television coverage of the election on Tuesday night. Dorne said this was the most exciting part of election day for him, adding that “the overall atmosphere was awesome.” Other students, like Stephanie Cooke ’13, cited the television programming as an excuse to procrastinate.
Student attitudes towards the election varied widely, from enthusiastic political activism to apathy or annoyance. “I tried to stay up with [the election] but it was tiring,” said Cooke. “I’m glad it’s finally over.”
In an informal poll, The Tech found roughly half of students had voted, which is comparable to the national eligible voter average of roughly 60 percent participation. Reasons for not voting ranged from forgetting to register to making a conscious decision not to vote after hearing extreme opinions about policy and candidates.
The most important issues for students on the ballot included the economy, foreign policy, and the legalization of recreational marijuana. Legalization of medical marijuana was Ballot Question 3 in Massachusetts..
“I really like that Obama put marriage equality in for the Democrats,” said Cooke. “Romney didn’t talk enough about his actual plan [for the economy] for me to believe in it,” she added.
International student Samira Daswani ’12 said she considered foreign policy the most important policy issue because “it affects the entire world.”
Cooke summed it up best, saying: “For everyone, certain [issues] are more important.”
For many students, this was their first time voting, and there were several surprises about the process and the results of the election. Although some students like Dorne said their “expectations aligned with what ended up happening,” others expected a different outcome. One student said he was surprised Romney lost. “I thought he ran a really tight ship and things just didn’t work out for him.”
Dorne mentioned one of the most surprising things about the election for him was the accuracy with which New York Times statistician Nate Silver predicted the vote results — accurately projecting the outcome of every single state on his blog, FiveThirtyEight.
According to the unofficial results posted on the Cambridge Election Commission website, Cambridge is largely left-leaning, with Barack Obama earning eight times as many votes as Mitt Romney. Democratic Senator-Elect Elizabeth Warren also carried Cambridge, beating out Republican Scott Brown by a factor of five. Massachusetts ballot questions 1 and 3, the “Right to Repair” and medical marijuana initiatives, passed. Question 2, which would permit physicians to end a patient’s life under specific circumstances — known as the “Death with Dignity” initiative — failed to pass by a slim margin.