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Fem Dems watch, wait to find their nominee

On the morning after a near-national primary on February 5, delegate wins for Democrats were still too close to predict a clear winner of the party’s nomination. As of this writing Clinton leads with 823 delegates over Obama’s 741, but all state precincts and absentee ballots have yet to be counted.

McCain gained a stronger edge over the Republicans, winning 680 delegates so far, over two times as many as Romney, who leads Huckabee by less than 100 delegates.

On the night of Super Tuesday, it was standing room only in Suzie’s commuter lounge, where a couple dozen Democratic students watched states get called for Clinton or Obama, McCain, Huckabee or Romney.

Fem Dems, the revived Democratic club on campus, initiated the hushed television-watching event. Its leader Katie Johnson said the club was candidate-neutral and declined to share who she will vote for when she sends in her absentee ballot.

“For a while I was into Hillary, but I also really like Obama,” she said. “Politically, I’m in love with both of them.”

The hairline-close percentages between Obama and Clinton in many states testified to Democratic voters being caught in the same love triangle with two unprecedented, major candidates with largely similar platforms.

Nicole Hudley, a senior, said she would have voted for Obama if she could have changed her party registration from Green to Democrat in time for the primary. She supports Obama, she said, because he’s more serious about ending the war and most of his campaign contributions were from individuals and not corporations.

As she listened to pundits on MSNBC talk about Clinton’s delegate count, Hudley added, “But I gotta say it is really cool to hear someone say ‘she’.”

Students showed wide eyes and smiles when championing their candidate or explaining why they are still stuck between candidates. The Democratic undecided stressed that they’re just as excited for an election that regardless of outcome will change American history.

Sarah Shapiro, a senior, shot pool with Rebecca Williams, a sophomore, as poll results were coming in, before they were asked to stop by students listening to state-by-state victory speeches.

Shapiro voted for Clinton but respects Obama’s idealism, she
said. “But- ”

“Hillary’s more rooted in reality?” Williams asked.

Shapiro responded, “But I think we’re at a really vulnerable point in history and I think Hillary has the experience to fix it.”

She echoed the eagerness for change expressed by many other students whether Obama or Clinton wins their party’s nomination. “It’s so exciting because it’s so up in the air.
“I’d be really disappointed if McCain won. He’d be a decent leader, but it would be just another old white dude.”

Mills students, like voters across the country, seem to look to Democrats to bring a real change not just in the face of leadership but the country’s direction.

For Natalia Brown, a junior, Obama’s stance on economic issues, like student loans, and on immigration won her vote. She said it was still a hard decision.

“I’m not going to vote for Obama just because he could be the first black president or Hillary because she’s the first woman,” said Brown. “You have to go beyond the fa‡ade of what they represent to what they do, because the American public has been screwed for so long.”

Senior Margee Churchon had supported Dennis Kucinich, who dropped out of the race, because of his position to legalize gay marriage. She said she abstained from voting for a candidate that didn’t support all of her values, but sided with the Democratic party.

“Hillary and Obama have talked about people, about jobs and people and children and healthcare for people, about changing people’s lives,” Churchon said. “The Republican candidates are only talking about what they value.”

Stefany James, a sophomore, pointed out that while pollsters projected California’s winner, the real result won’t be final until all the absentee votes are in and counted. “The majority of registered voters in California vote by absentee ballot,” she said.

California is also one of the few proportional states that award delegates according to the percentage of votes each candidate wins, instead of being a winner-take-all state. In other words, if Clinton won 50 percent of California’s Democratic voters in the primary and Obama won 40 percent, Clinton would be awarded 50 percent of California’s 170 delegates in the Democratic convention and Obama would receive 40 percent of those delegates.

In most states, however, the candidate who won the most votes in the primary wins all party delegates in that state.

To clinch the nomination for president, a Democratic candidate must win a majority of 2,025 delegates out of a total 4,049 who vote for the party leader at the Democratic National Convention in August.

Among Republicans, a candidate must win at least 1,191 delegates out of the 2,380 that choose their nominee at the Republican National Convention in September.

The votes of the delegates-not the popular vote-ultimately decide which candidate will run on each party’s ticket.

James said she put a lot of thought and research into her decision to vote for Obama. While his platform overlaps a lot with Clinton’s, she said, she found in him the character she wants in a president.

“Most importantly I thought of inspiration. I’m 20 and I’ve yet to feel inspired by a president. I haven’t felt that fervor, and a human connection to Washington,” James said.

“With the Democratic party, either way we’re going to have a historical moment.”