Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
Pennsylvania has become the most important state in the United States. Come April 22nd, the state’s 158 elected delegates will be distributed–and an unexpected result (like a win by Obama, or a crushing victory by Clinton) could decide the Democratic primary.
Anne Kolker ’08 is on the front lines of the Obama campaign’s operation, leading the Students for Barack Obama organization.
“I thought Pennsylvania wouldn’t matter,” she now admits. But after serving with Senator Obama during the summer of 2007, she wanted to get involved in the state-wide organization–and was stunned to discover that, early in the campaign, there was almost no significant organization in the state. “I slowly worked my way up, called the campaign in Chicago, and then they asked me to interview,” she explained.
She got the job. Now she coordinates student groups, keeps communication lines open, and manages a ‘spring-tern’ program which is placing two-hundred college students from across the country that are coming to help in the Pennsylvania campaign. While one of the students might come to Swarthmore, most are headed to the largest schools in the state—the University of Pennsylvania and Penn State, among others.
Obama faces a tough fight in Pennsylvania.
At a recent call with major donors, the senator said that a loss by only 10% would be a victory, according to Talking Points Memo. “This is Clinton Country,” said Kolker.
Still, she focuses on the student population which has turned out in record numbers in primary after primary. “I expect 30% of students to turn out,” explained Kolker. And in past primaries, students have been strong supporters of the Obama campaign.
One of the biggest concerns for Democrats in Delaware County has been voter intimidation. “The county is heavily Republican,” said Kolker. “Some people worry about their jobs if they register as a Democrat. We’ve got our work cut out for us.”
If you are interested in joining the Students for Barack Obama, the Swarthmore Chapter is having a meeting tomorrow evening, and regularly meets Sunday nights.