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First in the Nation

A Primary experience for Dartmouth students
Dartmouth students turned out in large numbers to vote
Dartmouth students turned out in large numbers to vote in the Jan. 8 New Hampshire presidential primary. (photo by Jennie Post '08/The Dartmouth)

In the days leading up to Jan. 8, when New Hampshire voted in the 2008 presidential primary, car horns and cheers mingled with the bells from Baker Tower, as the Green and Hanover's busiest street corners were crowded with people holding campaign signs and calling out to passersby. Dartmouth welcomed a steady stream of presidential hopefuls and their supporters during primary season, right up to the last moments: Jan. 7 and 8 saw campus visits from Senators John McCain, Barack Obama, and, on behalf of, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, former President Bill Clinton.

Campaigners have found a politically active student body at Dartmouth this election cycle. The College boasts leaders of statewide student political organizations: Gregory Boguslavsky '09 is chair of the New Hampshire College Republicans; Michael Heslin '08 is president of the College Democrats of New Hampshire. Interviewed for a Views from the Green podcast on Jan. 3, both saw much excitement and engagement on campus in the days leading up to the First in the Nation presidential primary. Boguslavsky talked about the extent to which Dartmouth students were involved in the process-volunteering for campaigns, attending events, registering to vote. Heslin concurred: "It's great to see people engaging in the political discourse." Boguslavsky continued: "Students have to understand and candidates need to emphasize that their votes are critical. There are a lot of students, they are active, they are young, and they can make a big difference."

Tuesday the eighth was an easy day to go vote in Hanover-unusually warm, a January thaw, with blue skies, melting snow, and clear roads. Turnout was high in town, as it was across the state. As late as half an hour before the polls closed, the line of voters waiting to register on the spot, mainly Dartmouth students making the most of the state law that allows same-day registration, stretched the length of the Hanover High School gym. Many had arrived at the polls thanks to shuttles running from campus to the high school and back, including vans managed by Vote Clamantis, a non-partisan voting advocacy group headed by Tyler Frisbee '08.

Dartmouth holds an unparalleled advantage for the college student passionate about national politics: once in every student's undergraduate career, the eyes of the world are focused on New Hampshire for an early verdict on presidential hopefuls. Professor of Government Dean Lacy, an expert on electoral institutions and political behavior, considered the influence of the students in Hanover's electoral results-which favored McCain and Obama-in a morning-after interview. And he could have been speaking for many others when he said: "It's an exciting time to be here and to study what I study. I don't think there's any other place in the country I'd rather be this time of year."

By KELLY SEAMAN

WHAT THEY WERE SAYING

Professor of Government Dean Lacy discusses the results of the New Hampshire primary and offers suggestions for what to look for during the coming months

Student political organizers Gregory Boguslavsky '09 and Michael Heslin '08 offer student perspectives on the primary

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Last Updated: 5/30/08