The Undergraduate Council presidential campaign of Andrea R. Flores ’10 has opened up an early lead in the contest for the UC’s top spot by garnering the lion’s share of student group endorsements in the first week of campaigning.
But whether Flores and running mate Kia J. McLeod ’10 can convert their advantage in student group endorsements into a win at the polls remains to be seen. The Flores-McLeod ticket leads its nearest opponents, Benjamin P. Schwartz ’10 and running mate Alneada D. Biggers ’10, with eight out of 11 student group endorsements so far.
But the Schwartz-Biggers campaign downplayed any concern over the deficit yesterday, discounting the importance of student group endorsements.
“The campaign is about getting in there and talking to students about our plans, how they’re executable, and how they benefit student groups,” Schwartz said.
Despite its current advantage, the Flores-McLeod ticket has not yet sought to mobilize student group support in its campaign beyond the initial endorsement statements e-mailed to group members, according to interviews with student group leaders. In the past, student groups have helped staff and support the campaigns of the candidates they endorse.
Flores is trying to ascend to the presidency from the UC’s Finance Committee, a body that has not traditionally served as a stepping stone to the top office, making her campaign’s ability to capitalize on student group support pivotal. With voting not set to begin until Dec. 12, time still remains for her campaign to tap into additional student group resources for support—a step that Eva Z. Lam ’10, president of the Harvard College Democrats, said could prove far more important than the endorsements themselves.
“The impact of endorsements really depends on the student group, size of the group, dedication of the board to turn out voters,” Lam said. “Endorsements are only the first step of a campaign.”
Student groups offer campaigns access to e-mail lists, name recognition, and a ready-made means of getting out the vote in an election that last year saw a record-low turnout of 2,181 undergraduates at the polls.
Beyond that, a student group endorsement can simply lend weight to a candidate’s pitch.
“When I’m going door-to-door explaining my platform, saying that this and that student group has endorsed me adds legitimacy,” Flores said.
While chairing FiCom, Flores interacted with student groups seeking funding on a regular basis—a relationship that seems to have benefited her in the competition for endorsements. Following the Dems’ endorsement meeting, Lam cited Flores’ efficiency as leader of the committee as one of the key factors informing her group’s endorsement.
Aside from the Dems, the Flores-McLeod ticket has been endorsed by the Harvard Republican Club, the Asian American Association, the Environmental Action Committee, Strong Women Strong Girls, the South Asian Men’s Collective, the Black Men’s Forum, and Perspective Magazine. Schwartz and Biggers have been endorsed by the Black Students Association, Freeze Magazine, and the Progressive Jewish Alliance.
Late last night, The Crimson endorsed the Schwartz-Biggers ticket, citing the candidates’ diverse backgrounds and the strength of their platform.