Students gain first-hand campaign experience ahead of New Hampshire primary

February 11, 2020

Two male students walking in the street for campaign

Nineteen Quinnipiac students will see their hard work pay off today as New Hampshire residents cast their votes in the nation’s first primary.

For Samantha Murdock ‘21, a Joe Biden victory would be satisfying. The political science major/legal studies minor met the former vice president when she and other students were chosen to stand behind him during a rally at the Rex Theater in downtown Manchester on February 8.

Afterward, the two chatted. Murdock told Biden she related to his strength in losing several family members, sharing that her father had battled leukemia and beat it, thanks in part to health care reform.

“He really took his time talking with the people there. He asked me what I wanted to do, and I told him I wanted to be a lawyer, but remain involved in politics,” Murdock said. “He thanked me for canvassing for him and said, ‘We need more people like you to get other young people out there to vote.’ Then, he took my phone and we took selfies. It was amazing.”

Murdock and 18 other students are spending eight days in New Hampshire for a three-credit course they are taking with Scott McLean, professor of political science. They are experiencing politics in action as they campaign for a candidate of their choice and learn how campaign professionals think and strategize about mobilizing support. McLean asked students to observe at least two campaigns up close.

For Nicholas Ciampanelli ‘22, canvassing meant heading to Salem, New Hampshire, on behalf of his candidate, Andrew Yang.

“The area I was in was traditionally deep red, and we encountered quite a number of citizens who were uncooperative, even hostile … and some generally fed up with people knocking on doors,” he said.

A few of the voters listed Yang as their No. 2 choice, according to Ciampanelli, an economics and political science dual major. He said his favorite part of the experience has been attending rallies and hearing the candidates speak.

Stephan Kapustka has spent his time in New Hampshire helping raise enthusiasm for President Donald Trump. Kapustka currently serves as the Quinnipiac chairman of the College Republicans.

Tyler Delehoy ‘21, a Bernie Sanders supporter, and Matthew Hawryluk ‘22, who supports Pete Buttigieg, met Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, co-hosts of “Morning Joe,” when they attended a broadcast of the show February 10 in a downtown Manchester hotel.

Among the guests were candidate Amy Klobuchar, who seemed to be experiencing a surge in popularity that day, candidate Michael Bennett, and several of the MSNBC commentators including John Heilemann and Lawrence O’Donnell. The hosts often mention the Quinnipiac Poll in their reporting.

The day before, Delehoy and Hawryluk arrived at a Buttigieg rally early and were chosen to sit in the cheering section, waving signs and shouting “President Pete” as loud music whipped the crowd into a frenzy before Buttigieg hopped on stage to outline his vision for the country.

Today, the students will hit the streets for more get-out-the-vote efforts before attending celebratory parties with candidates and heading home to reflect on their unique experience.

Quinnipiac students also worked with the Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Bill Weld campaigns.

College of Arts and Sciences

BA in Political Science

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