Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

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Dean failed to capture student vote

Howard Dean’s difficult primary run was frustrated yet again when the former Vermont governor failed to win the University of Wisconsin student vote in the state primary Tuesday.

Despite his considerable effort to secure student voters, Dean finished behind Sen. John Kerry’s (Mass.) 38 percent with 37 percent of the vote at campus area polls. Sen. John Edwards (NC) received 24 percent on campus.

“I think we learned yesterday (Tuesday) that students are really quite normal human beings,” UW political science professor Byron E. Shafer said. “If someone isn’t a viable candidate, they won’t vote for him, and Howard Dean had ceased to be a serious option.”

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Dean campaigned intensely on campus in the days prior to the primary, putting much emphasis on student support in the “make-or-break” state of Wisconsin. The former Vermont governor made numerous appearances in Madison and relied on student groups to maintain a high level of visibility for his campaign.

Although Dean did better among young voters than any other age group, it was not nearly enough to prolong his campaign.

“The younger you were, the more likely you were to vote for Dean,” Shafer said. “He still did well among students, but Dean was winning nothing and going nowhere, so some students who weren’t such fervent Dean supporters looked elsewhere.”

Several factors played a role in Dean’s diminished support. Many voters placed a high emphasis on electability, viewing Dean as not being the candidate best able to defeat President Bush.

“We won the campus, so I think that is an indication that lots of students are really concerned with replacing Bush,” Chair of Students for Kerry, Don Eggert, said.

Also hurting Dean was John Edwards’ late surge in popularity among Wisconsin voters. Edwards’ message of job growth in a state that has lost 75,000 jobs since 2000 struck a chord with Wisconsin voters, who viewed the economy as the most important issue Tuesday, according to UW sociology professor Donald Ferree.

Although Edwards’ support among students was lower than the 34 percent he got from the general population, his surprisingly strong overall showing was enough to establish himself as the one and only alternative to John Kerry.

“Dean’s uniqueness relied on being strongly against the war,” Ferree said. “When we got to know other candidates in Iowa and New Hampshire who were also against the war, Dean lost some of his identity.”

Students who stuck with Dean are now faced with new choices upon Dean’s announcement Wednesday to end his campaign.

“I said I would support Dean to the end, and now it is time to look to the future down the road in November,” UW sophomore Adam Schlicht, who decided to shift his support to Kerry, said.

Dean underscored the importance young supporters held throughout his campaign when he formally withdrew from the race in Burlington, Vt.

“One quarter of all our people who gave us money were under 30 years old in this campaign,” Dean said in his speech. “I have not seen that happen since I was under 30 years old, and that was a long time ago.”

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