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Drake students welcome GOP debate

Photo: Joey Gale

On Saturday, Drake students will have a unique opportunity offered to them. Besides being privy to witnessing the ABC-Des Moines Register-Republican Party of Iowa Debate, they can also vote in the very first Drake Straw Poll.

Sophomore Sam Pritchard, chair of the Student Senate ad hoc committee said the idea of a straw poll came out of conversations he had with Eric Baker, an intern for the Republican Party of Iowa and a member of the ad hoc committee.

Pritchard said that the committee was looking for an overarching theme for the events this week, and that is when the two had a “light bulb” moment.

The poll, which will be conducted on Dec. 10, will be sent out campus-wide via an email with a link to a Qualtrics online survey. Students will have until 11:59 p.m. that night to cast their ballot.

Usually, students are asked to vote through blueView, but Pritchard said an ID number would have been required for each candidate.

This straw poll, is the first of it’s kind on a campus-wide scale. Pritchard said the closest event took place at Illinois State University last month, with only about 400 student participants.

Pritchard said the straw poll would serve a few purposes.

“It gives a reason for campaigns and candidates to take our student events seriously, and gives them a reason to meet with students and campaign a bit on campus,” he said. Pritchard added that it would allow campaigns to become “fired up.”

He said it also gives students a way to feel actively involved in the debate. He expects about 1,200 votes to be totaled in the poll. This number is based off of the votes that are usually calculated in other elections on campus. With about a third of campus expected to vote, Pritchard said he feels the poll will be taken seriously.

Besides the straw poll, the Election 2012 ad hoc committee has a flurry of events planned for this Saturday.

Starting at 10 a.m. in Olmsted, there will be “Pancakes and Politics.” Students can take the opportunity to eat pancakes and talk to people involved with campaigns and possibly a candidate or two. Pritchard said this event was going to be a more relaxed atmosphere for those directly involved in the debate to get to know students at Drake.

“We hope that students can shake some hands, take some pictures and just really have a low-key event,” he said. Students are urged to pay attention to the Student Senate’s Twitter account (@DrakeStuSenate) for updates on who is in attendance at this particular event.

There will be facility tours of the Knapp Center and the Performing Arts Hall, which will hold the pressroom and spin room respectively.

Then, at 7 p.m., the debate watching parties will open up in Meredith and Harvey Ingham.

“We really want it to be like a sporting event — high-  energy -— being able to watch with a lot of your friends and peers,” Pritchard said.

On a personal level, Pritchard said he is excited for the pre-debate show where the all-male, a cappella group Brocal Chords will be singing the national anthem.

Pritchard is also excited for all events that are happening, and encourages students to attend all of the events and pay attention to social media this week for updates on everything that is going on.

“It (the straw poll) will give the Drake University student body an option to express their opinion in a strong way,” he said. “It’s something that is important to students, and we want students to be involved and engaged.”

He also advises students to be smart this weekend.

“This is a huge opportunity for Drake University,” he said. “Be responsible, be respectful, and essentially show the world what Drake has to offer.”


Horsch is a junior news/Internet and rhetoric double major. She serves as the TD's Editor-in-Chief. She has been on staff for three years and has been the editor since January 2012.

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