The 2011 Spring General Election results have officially been announced by the Elections Commission. The quick run-down is: highest undergraduate turnout in recorded history, driven by sophomores, who turned out at a rate 20 percent higher than last year (perhaps due to the fierce class president race), offset by 28 percent lower graduate turnout (several races for Graduate Student Council were won by write-in candidates with three votes).
Ok, on to the results: Cruz/Macgregor-Dennis won by a margin of 54.4 percent to 45.6 percent for Tenzin-Vasquez in the deciding round. That’s surprisingly tight considering the strength of that slate’s voter mobilization efforts (see the Flipside for a satirical take on the number of emails). On the Undergraduate Senate side, SOCC candidates made up twelve of the fifteen winners, with only Daniel Delong ’13, Ben Laufer ’12, and Alon Elhanan ’14 breaking into the top 15. (The three other SOCC candidates finished 16-18 – just out of range of victory.) This isn’t a surprise (I was expected as many as 13-14 SOCC winners), but it’s a testament to SOCC’s voter mobilization capabilities, especially in the absence of another organizing platform such as Students for a Better Stanford (from the 2009 election) or Students United Now (from the 2010 election). Finally, the controversy over the senior class presidents is over: Senior Citizen won in an overwhelming fashion.
So, what about ROTC?
The final major issue is Ballot Measure A – Advisory Question on ROTC. Here the results deserve more parsing than I have time to offer here, but here’s the percentage breakdown:
- I support the return of ROTC to Stanford University – 44.1%
- I oppose the return of ROTC to Stanford University – 17%
- I choose to abstain – 38.8%
There are two main narratives here. The first is that supporters of ROTC barely beat out those abstaining on the measure, which can be interpreted as a protest vote against the question being raised. That the totals are so close is a reflection of the strength of the Abstain Campaign and its impressive outreach (I received almost as many emails from the Abstain Campaign as from Cruz/Macgregor-Dennis). The second narrative is that supporters of ROTC dominated those opposing it. Excluding abstain, a normal practice (abstain is equivalent to not voting, normally), supporters of ROTC won by a margin of 72.1 percent to 27.9 percent. Those opposing ROTC will certainly argue that some people who abstained actually oppose ROTC, but the opposite is certainly true as well. In addition, as time goes on, the potence of the protest vote falls further, so this may be increasingly interpreted as a victory for ROTC supporters. In my opinion, nothing short of a rejection of ROTC by the students (except possibly 50 percent abstain) can send a signal to the Faculty Senate that would change their findings, which I believe will ultimately favor ROTC’s return.