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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Campaign Internships and Hard Lessons

At The Los Angeles Times, Jason Song reports on a program at Occidental College.
In what is believed to be the only college program of its kind, the undergraduates in the Campaign Semester course spent at least 2 1/2 months, often seven days a week, 12 hours a day, working on behalf of candidates in contested states.
None won.

Many were resoundingly defeated, although two students worked for the reelection campaign of Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, who is in a runoff. All of the students worked for Democratic candidates; Republicans swept the mid-terms and took control of the House and Senate.
Students participating in the program receive full college credit for volunteering. They can work for candidates in either party but it must be in a battleground state. In the past, undergraduates have worked for such candidates as Mitt Romney and Linda Lingle, a Republican who unsuccessfully ran for a Senate seat in Hawaii in 2012.
Most said they were shocked when their candidates lost. Kaminsky was so sure that Udall would be reelected that when the race was called in his opponent's favor, the news didn't sink in for a few moments, she said.

"It was devastating," Kaminsky said, especially since she realized that many of the other people she had been working with didn't know what they would do next. "Everyone was out of a job," she said.
Other students were even more emotional. Early election night, Tieman started driving from one campaign office to another when Hagan was in the lead. She sang aloud as she drove, excited for the victory.
When it was clear Hagan was going to lose, Tieman began "gross-sobbing and ugly-crying."
"It felt like everything I had poured my heart and soul into ended up not meaning anything," she said.
The two professors teaching the course — Peter Dreier and Regina Freer — were concerned enough that they asked the religious counselor to visit the class. They said their students seemed to be coping well.