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UW Election Eye 2012

Campaign 2012 through the eyes of UW faculty and students

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You are currently viewing all posts written by Amber Cortes. Amber Cortes is a radio producer, youth media educator, and journalist. She currently works as a freelance video producer for nonprofits and volunteers at a local radio station, Hollow Earth Radio. You can read some of her thoughts and adventures in the world of digital media on the Flip the Media blog at the University of Washington. Oh! And she also makes sound art and killer omelettes in her spare time.

September 11, 2012 at 6:45 AM

Obama team winning the digital campaign, but grassroots want more

The Democratic National Convention last week took on social media and garnered a flood of tweets. But one organizer says the Obama campaign has lost sight of its digital roots of engaging people in local participation.

The “I’m There” Flickr Project for the Democratic National Convention (Photo by Amber Cortes/ UW Election Eye)

CHARLOTTE — The Democratic National Convention was hailed by its leaders as the “most open and accessible convention in history — reaching more Americans than ever before through a diverse set of social media platforms.”

True, absolutely true. But not good enough for some.

The DNC could be found last week on a dizzying array of social media platforms — flickr, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google +, Foursquare, Pinterest, and Instagram. A DNC mobile app helped delegates and media navigate the convention and broader Charlotte (though there was no platform for BlackBerry, so I couldn’t use it). There was also a website with an interactive delegate map and a livestream of the speeches every night.

In terms of social media presence, the Obama campaign is winning the race. Consider that the Republican National Convention in Tampa — where the RNC headquartered a social media “Command Center” — was the focus of over 4 million tweets during the convention — whereas the DNC was the focus of more than 5 million tweets by the second day.

But is the Obama campaign truly engaging their base through digital media? Hmmm. Interesting question.


Comments | More in National | Topics: Barack Obama, Democratic National Convention, digital media

September 6, 2012 at 11:15 AM

Hispanic citizens are a — perhaps the — crucial voting bloc in presidential campaign

Voters of Hispanic heritage could be the key difference-maker this election — if they show up at the polls.

CHARLOTTE — Si, se puede! is a rallying cry among Latinos at the Democratic National Convention. It translates roughly to “Yes, it can be done.” But can it? Hispanic voters may be the key to Barack Obama’s potential victory in swing states like Colorado, Nevada, North Carolina, and Florida. But their traditionally relatively lower turnout on Election Day may leave Democrats wanting.

Democrats need the Hispanic vote to win several key swing states in the 2012 Presidential election. (Flickr / Erik Hersman)

Consider this: Obama’s 2008 win in North Carolina was by the slimmest of margins: 14,000 votes. The state, where Hispanics now account for 18% of the population, now has about 100,000 registered Hispanic voters, but only 14.2% showed up to vote in North Carolina’s May primary (compared with 38.5% of white voters and 25.2% African American voters).

Texas delegate Remi Garza thinks that for Hispanic voters, there is a disconnect that happens between Election Day and policy implementation.

“You get excited about Election Day and you go to the polls and cast your ballot. And your candidate wins, but unfortunately government processes take a long time. So the change you were expecting to happen quickly takes a lot longer to go through the system,” he says. He thinks that if Hispanics can just bridge that gap in their minds they’d be more likely to show up to the polls.


Comments | More in Culture, National | Topics: Hispanic voters, Julian Castro, Latino voters

September 4, 2012 at 6:46 AM

Some unions vexed by Democratic Party’s choices for party in Charlotte

Unions are generally strong supporters of the Democratic Party. But not all unions or their members are on the same page with the party over its choice to hold its nominating convention in Charlotte, or how the party is going about it.

CHARLOTTE — Unions and Democrats go together like bread and butter, right?  The Democratic Party and unions have had a reciprocal relationship for years: Unions provide the party with both financial and political support, while the party supports them in national legislation.

Chris Cecil from Teamsters Local 391 in Greensboro on Labor Day, 2012 (Photo by Amber Cortes/UW Election Eye)

But the choice of holding the Democratic National Convention in North Carolina — a right-to-work state that does not allow employees to collectively bargain — has ruffled some feathers among unions in North Carolina and around the country. Unions like the AFL-CIO have curtailed their involvement this year, and the United Mine Workers, a strong supporter of Barack Obama in 2008, are still deciding whether to officially endorse him this time around.

Chris Cecil, a shop steward with Teamsters Local 391 in Greensboro, NC, is dissatisfied with the convention location and Obama in general.

“Just look at where he’s giving his acceptance speech,” he said  as he hands out leaflets to passersby: “Bank of America Stadium.”


Comments | More in National | Topics: Barack Obama, Charlotte, Democratic Party

September 3, 2012 at 9:00 AM

This isn’t Seattle; on the road to Charlotte and the Democratic National Convention

Atlanta Airport poster

Posters in support of military lined hallways of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Georgia. (Photo taken September 2, 2012, by Ilona Idlis/UW Election Eye)

Our introduction to the South is quick, and enlightening, as we head from Seattle to cover the Democratic National Convention.

CHARLOTTE — When we exited the sliding doors of the Atlanta airport yesterday, the first thing that hit us was the heat. Whoosh. This was Southern heat: oppressive, sticky, humid. It needed no formal introductions. Our Pacific Northwest jeans and sweaters were out of place.

In the concourse we were greeted with billboards sporting evocative photos of soldiers and slogans. This was not SEATAC. “Come Home Safe!” and “Help carry our wounded warriors home” decorated every other terminal hallway. Georgia is a state that houses 15 bases, forts, stations and airfields.

We pondered the disconnect between the South’s staunch allegiance to its military and the absence of the topic in recent political discourse. Times columnist Danny Westneat pointed out there were barely four mentions of the war in all the speeches given at the RNC—and one of them came from the ramblings of Clint Eastwood. Mitt Romney didn’t speak of the troops at all. Our present Georgian surroundings made that omission seem even more garish. We wondered if the message of the Democratic National Convention, where we were headed, would be different.


Comments | More in National | Topics: Atlanta, Danny Westneat, Democratic National Convention

August 6, 2012 at 6:45 AM

“99% Party” candidate seeks to Occupy Second Congressional District seat

Mike Lapointe

Mike Lapointe in Everett on July 30, 2012 (Photo by Amber Cortes/UW Election Eye)

Citizens frustrated with the Democratic and Republican parties are running longshot campaigns for Congress. Meet the nation’s only “99% Party” candidate.

EVERETT — Mike Lapointe wants to Occupy Congress, starting with the Second Congressional District.

Clad in a t-shirt and jeans and sporting a past-5-o’clock-shadow, Lapointe sits in the backroom of Firewheel Books and Beans on Oakes Street, looking tired, sipping coffee. He is a former labor union organizer running as a member of the 99% Party — the only such candidate in the country — against incumbent Democratic Rep. Rick Larsen.

“Are you taping this?” Lapointe asks in a thick Boston accent, noticing my recorder. “Then I better watch my cuss words. I can get really worked up about some of this stuff.”

Firewheel Books and Beans is where it all started for Lapointe. This cooperatively owned and operated coffee shop is a gathering place for activists and community members. The seeds of the Occupy Everett movement were planted here September 30, 2011, with a turnout that surprised even Lapointe.

“The day of the event we had like 30 people signed up,” he explains. “And usually when you have an event like that, if you get half you’re lucky. So I was hoping for maybe 20 people. So I get there at five minutes of, and there’s like, 15 people there. Fifteen minutes later there were a hundred people in there.  It was packed, I mean literally, wall-to-wall.”

For the next three months, Lapointe camped out in front of the Snohomish County Courthouse and used as much vacation time as he could to be around during the day. In the mornings, he and his fellow Occupiers woke up freezing and headed to Firewheel for coffee. Then they would go back to camp and talk to people.


Comments | More in National, State | Topics: 99%, CD2, Congressional District 2

August 5, 2012 at 7:00 AM

A longshot candidate makes case for Congressional 2nd District

Citizens frustrated with the Democratic and Republican parties are running longshot campaigns for Congress. Meet one: John C. W. Shoop in Washington’s 2nd Congressional District.

EVERETT — With an easy smile and a wide gait, John C.W. Shoop tips his black cowboy hat to passers-by as he strides into a Hadian for Governor event at Forest Park in Everett.

John C.W. Shoop

John C.W. Shoop struck a patriotic pose on July 24, 2012. (Photo by Amber Cortes/UW Election Eye)

“How’re you doing, John?” someone asks Shoop.

“Living the dream,” he replies. “Living the dream.”

The self-described filmmaker, pilot, real estate entrepreneur, and survivalist is asking for just five seconds of people’s time to check the box next to his name on the August 7 primary ballot.

He is a Republican-affiliated candidate for Congressional District 2, along with two other Republicans and a pair of third party candidates hoping to unseat incumbent Democrat Rick Larsen. The favorite for the Republican nod on Tuesday is Dan Matthews, who has a long list of names on his endorsements webpage. Shoop doesn’t have an endorsements page.

The names of two of these six candidates will make it onto the November ballot. If you give Shoop those five seconds he’s requesting, the ex-Marine promises to give you two years of his life as a U.S. Congressional representative. He’s a longshot, he knows.


Comments | More in National, State | Topics: CD2, Congressional District 2, John C.W. Shoop