However, what all these races have in common is the large degree of competition and the flurried excitement that precedes the election days, taking the form of fervent supporters and in-your-face marketing.
But entering my fourth year at Stanford, having observed 3 Exec races and even participated in one myself, I must say I find this latest race baffling.
Consider: in last year’s race, almost all Executive and Senate candidates gathered at White Plaza at 12:01AM for the opening of election week. Immediately all three Exec slates had up large banners on the bird cage, and all around campus dozens of supporters swarmed dorms and houses alike to plaster them with fliers, eager to secure the best position of bulletin boards.
This year? Many Senate candidates didn’t even know when the first day of “legal” flyering was, and there has *yet *to be an Executive banner flown in White Plaza (this blog has actually beaten them to it!).
Also last year, consider the large crowds gathered in White Plaza for the entirety of election week, ardently bellowing their candidates name at oncoming bikers and wielding large and unwieldy signs.
Has anyone seen this type of fervor in this latest Exec race? Many friends I have spoken to cannot even name a candidate slate!
While the less than cooperative weather might certainly explain some of these anomalies, I can’t help but wonder if there is an alternative explanation for this years’ seeming malaise.
To answer this question, I turn to look at the dynamics of the race: from my personal perspective, the Exec race (despite having 6 slates), has become a one on one matchup: Peacock/Bakke versus Cardona/Wharton. Let me explain.
Angelina Cardona and Kelsei Wharton bring what it takes to win the overwhelming undergraduate majority, unequivocally. Namely, the Dorsey/Harris affiliations that continue to command a large following of public service oriented students, Cardona’s current role as a freshmen RA and the resulting hoard of eager supporters that comes from such a position (consider Fagan Harris, VP ’08-’09 RA at Branner, and Hershey Avula, Pres ’07-’08, RA at Branner), and the incumbent ASSU experience that makes them the most well-connected (and most likely to rack up endorsements) of all the undergraduate slates.
On the other hand, Peacock/Bakke will (or should) unequivocally win the graduate vote, given their GSC membership and the fact that they are graduate students. The past two years have shown us that graduate students consistently vote for their won.
What strikes me as different this go round is that there is practically no overlap in these constituencies. What incentives do Cardona/Wharton have to campaign vigorously among undergrads? The very virtue of who they are, who they know, and how they’ve capitalized that to monopolize the endorsements guarantees that they’ll beat all the other undergraduate slates.
Furthermore, the way the ASSU voting system works, any votes that went to their undergrad competitors will most likely get redistributed to them as the various other slates are eliminated (second and third choices matter, kids!).
Peacock/Bakke have little chance among undergraduates, despite the Review endorsement. Their time will be best invested coordinating last-minute email campaigns among grad students, whose population outnumbers undergrads by an almost 2:1 margin.
So, given the implicit state of things, perhaps it is unsurprising that we see the muted campaigns that have characterized the Executive races this year. That being said, just because you *can *compete in an election with little or no work, doesn’t mean you should.
Exec races are historically difficult to manage, and winning one generally proves at the very least the victorious slate was able to command a large team of volunteers (indicative of respect and popularity), manage multiple campaign efforts (indicative of good project management skills), and execute relentlessly (indicative of competence).
What will this year’s winner have proved to the student body? Not much. One can hope this attitude changes when the winner (whoever it might be) assumes office.
Matthew Sprague (’10) ran for ASSU Executive last year.