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Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024
The Observer

ND College Republicans prepare for 2018 midterm elections with focus on South Bend

Editor’s note: Throughout the 2018 midterm election season, The Observer will sit down with various student organizations and professors to discuss political engagement and issues particularly pertinent to students. In this fifth installment, the Notre Dame College Republicans discusses its plans to shed light on local elections.

As the road to the 2018 midterm elections heats up across the country, the Notre Dame College Republicans is taking steps to assure victory in both local and national races.

Junior Jessica D’Souza, the president of College Republicans, said despite the importance of the midterm elections, a controversy-plagued political system seems to have numbed students to their right to vote.

“I think people have become apathetic, I think that we have just kind of gotten disinterested,” D’Souza said. “I know that my freshman year it was a big election year, so obviously everyone was drummed up, but I’ve noticed that even people that are strongly Democrat or strongly Republican just don’t care as much. It seems to be much more of an effort to get people back. [The disinterest] might probably have to do something with the fact that literally every time you open Twitter there’s a giant list of both sides angrily tweeting. It gets exhausting.”

Although interest may be lacking, D’Souza said College Republicans are pushing onwards with their efforts and trying to make the best use of each volunteer.

“Our first step was to try to educate our members about the different roles that they can play in midterm elections and the different ways they can help,” D’Souza said. “If you’re interested in finance, and that’s the background you bring, there are opportunities to help out with fundraising and stuff like that. If you are more of a people person, door-to-door canvassing is an option. So just educating people on what they can do to connect their passion to help out and get them interested.”

D’Souza said that with election day so close, the focus has shifted towards interaction with voters in the South Bend community.

“Every single Saturday the local parties get together and go on a targeted canvassing event where there will be people working phone lines, there will be people out in South Bend actually going door-to-door asking survey questions, and then at the end we all meet back together at Jackie Walorski's office to regroup and get excited for people voting and go from there,” D’Souza said.

Even with races such as Democratic Indiana Senator Joe Donnelly’s re-election campaign and and Republican Representative Jackie Walorski’s incumbent bid for Indiana’s second district, D’Souza said the College Republicans are trying to shine light on local elections that have a more direct impact on the South Bend community.

“I think that people really focus on the big contested races — who’s going to be governor, who’s going to be senator, who’s going to be representative — but they don’t understand necessarily the importance of how the people we elect at the city, town, village level impacts our day-to-day lives,” D’Souza said. “We’re really trying to raise awareness for that this year. We’re all living in South Bend for the majority of the year and ultimately the things that impact us the most intimately might not necessarily be tax reform or what we’re doing to help veterans — even though those are really, really important issues. The things that I think will get students drummed up is what’s going to affect our day-to-day lives.”

Though political campaigns are ultimately measured only by wins and losses, D’Souza said a cast vote for any candidate is a victory for everyone.

“The election turnout would be a big indicator of success,” D’Souza said. “Other than that, [success is] just engagement. The big thing would just be getting people registered to vote. … I don’t care if someone that we end up engaging is as liberal as Bernie Sanders — if we can get them involved in the conversation, that’s the most important thing.”