Students Participate in Election Night Analysis
by Howard W. Hewitt
November 2, 2004
Roundtable discussion in Wabash College’s Sparks Center rivaled what
students were watching on CNN, NBC, ABC and a variety of websites
Political science students and those just interested in politics
gathered Nov. 2 watching election returns and discussing the results.
The occasional cheer or jeer would rise from the discussions; chips and
cookies passed when another state fell into the win column for President
George Bush or Senator John Kerry.
Sparks looked like an election headquarters for the Wabash students with
a large screen television and two smaller televisions broadcasting
results. Several students had laptop computers with various websites
scattered across the room. Three laptop computers projected electoral
maps onto walls, adding to the multi-media vote tallying.
Most, but not all, of the students had voted in their first election.
But many agreed the 2004 race was more exciting than the Bush-Al Gore
contest four years ago.
"This has been a completely different experience and it’s been very
exciting," Freshman Brian Weil said. "There’s been a lot of passion on
both sides. It’s been very interesting."
The Elmhurst, Illinois, native said studying political science during an
election year has been a great experience.
"Professor (Jack) McGuire has us read The New York Times so
we usually have our little arguments in the morning about presidential
politics," Weil said.
McGuire, a visiting Professor of Political Science, said teaching
political science during a presidential election year is a special
"You can really look in-depth at national elections," McGuire explained.
"People are usually really interested in presidential elections. You can
use that interest and identification with one person as a tool to say
this is how elections are run. This is why the Electoral College is so
"We can kind of step back and ask how do they run these elections. You
can say parties are really important, but not just nationally, but what
happens in different states. I think it’s great how things are going now
(early election evening), some of the states are so close."
McGuire had students in his classes write a paper on four battle ground
states. The students were closely following the battleground states as
the evening progressed.
"They’re probably going to take the lesson home that it’s not a national
election, it’s 50 state elections," McGuire said. "That’s the best thing
they get out of this."
For Memphis, Tennessee, senior Alpha Newberry it was his second election
as a spectator but also his first as a participant. He drove home a week
ago to cast an early absentee ballot.
"Interestingly enough, I took a government course in high school with
much of the same content at the same time my senior year when the (2000)
election was going on," Newberry said. "I really like taking this course
at the same time the election is going on. It makes class lively."
Students were settling in for a long night near 11 p.m. as the election
seemed to boil down to the battleground states of Florida, Ohio and
Pennsylvania as many had predicted. Some said they would stick with the
telecasts until the end or return to their living units to watch until a
winner was declared.