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UW Election Eye 2012

Campaign 2012 through the eyes of UW faculty and students

November 3, 2012 at 7:00 PM

LOLcats and the election: how memes have taken over the news

As election day looms, “zinger” retweets and reblogs catapult political memes into the public eye.

On Twitter memes often appear in the form of hashtags.  (Image courtesy of / UW Election Eye)

SEATTLE — Internet meme (n.): “a catchy phrase or idea associated with an image, which often becomes viral online.”

During the presidential debates, my Twitter feed was aflutter with homemade memes and my Tumblr flooded with political commentary in that oh-so familiar form of white blocky text over photos.

Memes catapulted to fame in 2006 with the rise of the LOLcat and the kitties of I Can Haz Cheezburger.

The first memes I remember seeing were of the “I can haz” variety, but plenty has changed in the past few years, and now this internet art form has become a key part of the 2012 presidential election.

This became especially apparent during the months leading up to the first of the 2012 presidential debates. As October neared, Internet users of all ages were churning out Obama and Romney memes at full-speed.


Comments | More in Culture, National | Topics: discourse, Election 2012, memes

November 3, 2012 at 7:00 AM

In Seattle, conservative voters an ideological minority

Kyle Curtis peers over the sign that often brings him disapproving looks from liberal onlookers. Credit: Lauren LeMieux / UW Election Eye.

SEATTLE — For Kyle Curtis, president of the University of Washington College Republicans, it is nearly impossible to show  support for his chosen presidential candidate.

“I can’t tell you how hard it is to get a Mitt Romney sign in this state,” Curtis said.

Curtis did find a sign, but he also found confrontation. While holding the blue-and-red Mitt Romney poster on campus he got a disproving reaction from a passerby.

“He glared at us, then he took a few steps back,” Curtis said. “He was like, ‘You’re kidding me. You’re actually going to vote for Mitt Romney?’ and then I was like ‘Yes.’”


Comments | More in Culture, Local, State | Topics: blue voters, conservatives, Republicans

November 2, 2012 at 7:00 PM

Seattle youth defy national voter apathy trends

Nationwide, young voters are less likely to vote this year than in 2008. But in Seattle, they’re more engaged than ever before.

More than 300 young Seattleites listen to a motivation speech by State Senator Ed Murray (D-Seattle) before canvassing to get out the vote at Washington Bus’s Trick-or-Vote event last Saturday. (Photo courtesy of Toby Crittenden / UW Election Eye)

SEATTLE — What do a skeleton, Rosie the Riveter and a walking cupcake all have in common?

They were among 400 creatively-costumed young activists trick-or-treating for votes and marriage equality in Seattle over Halloween weekend.

Trick or Vote, an annual “Get Out the Vote” canvassing event put on by Seattle-based non-profit Washington Bus, saw an unprecedented number of dedicated young people taking to the streets this year in their spookiest (or quirkiest) attire — reminding people to turn in their ballots before election day next week and to support Referendum 74.

It was the biggest turnout at an event in Washington Bus history. This is in keeping with an increasing number of young Seattleites taking politics into their own hands this year — especially when it comes to local and state issues — but this runs counter to national trends of youth-voter disengagement.

Washington Bus, unique in its youth-focused approach to political engagement, doubled its number of regular participants in just the past year. Most of these volunteers are under 25 years old.


According to Toby Crittenden, Washington Bus’ executive director, there are now more than 5,000 young people who canvas and phone bank with the Bus on a regular basis, which is ten times more than when it started up in 2007 (and yes, this includes 2008’s “Obamamania“).


Comments | More in Local, State | Topics: apathy, engagement, Young voters

November 2, 2012 at 8:00 AM

In central Virginia, it’s hope vs. faith for swing voters

Colby and Gary Takacs on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. for President Barack Obama’s 2008 inauguration
(photo courtesy of Gary Takacs / UW Election Eye)

What can Virginia tell us about the presidential race? Seattle transplant and UW student Lisa Strube-Kilgore reflects on life in a purple state.

SEATTLE — All the polls seem to agree: Virginia’s looking pretty purple these days. Historically, Virginia was considered a democratic stronghold, but it’s also a deeply conservative state socially. Virginia’s 13 electoral votes went to President Obama in 2008, but this year could see a reversal as polls there seem to show the state as a toss-up.

The idea of living in a battleground state can be pretty foreign to us here in true blue Washington, where it can feel like you’re more likely to run across a unicorn than a swing voter.  Even the idea of undecided voters seems to baffle us, but as a native Virginian, they’re no mystery to me. I know them. They’re my friends and family, my old neighbors and classmates, and right now, they’re the people every pollster and political aficionado wants to talk to. The outcome of this election, as pundits and analysts keep telling us, is very likely in their hands. Everyone wants to know how Virginians (and voters in states like it) are going to vote on November 6. Well, if you ask me, if you really want a good idea of what’s happening in Virginia, you need to head to Lynchburg.


Comments | More in Culture, National | Topics: lynchburg, purple states, swing states

November 1, 2012 at 7:01 PM

Buzzfeed alleges Romney campaign bought relief supplies at Wal-Mart

The Romney-Ryan campaign suffered a blow today over allegations of another staged photo op, its second in three weeks in the crucial swing state of Ohio. Buzzfeed quotes an anonymous staffer as saying the Romney campaign purchased $5,000 worth of merchandise at an area Wal-Mart to serve as props in a hastily-planned “Relief Rally.” The original…


Comments | More in National | Topics: Buzzfeed, Mitt Romney, Ohio

October 31, 2012 at 4:10 PM

Minority representation still a challenge in hyper-diverse 9th district

The 9th Congressional District (shown in green) was redrawn this year to be Washington’s first ‘majority-minorty’ district. (Image via Google Maps and Washington State Redistricting Commission)

Majority-minority districts are usually created with an eye to boosting the number of minorities in Congress. But in the Washington’s new majority-minority 9th District, that’s definitely not going to happen this election.

SEATTLE — When Washington’s congressional districts were redrawn last January, the State Redistricting Commission made a bold move:

They split the city of Seattle between two districts in order to create the state’s first ever “majority-minority” district.

The 9th Congressional District was shifted northward, leaving behind the Fort Lewis area and rural Pierce County to take in both South Seattle and a growing population of immigrant and minority voters in South King County.

Now 51 percent of residents in the new 9th district identify as ethnic minorities.

But when those minority voters cast their ballots this week, they’ll be choosing between eight-term incumbent Adam Smith, a Democrat, and GOP challenger Jim Postma.

Both are white. Both are Christian. Both were born in the US.


Comments | More in Local | Topics: 9th District, Adam Smith, Congress

October 27, 2012 at 9:00 AM

Referendum 74 finds an unlikely champion in hip-hop’s Macklemore and Ryan Lewis

A Washington State hip-hop artist bucks stereotypes by making music in support of marriage equality and Referendum 74. SEATTLE — Hip-hop is not generally considered a bastion of progressive virtue. Despite the boundaries and expansion spurred by the hip-hop movement over the past 30+ years, the general content is still enough to make the most…


Comments | More in Local, State | Topics: Ben Haggerty, Macklemore, Referendum 74

October 26, 2012 at 3:40 PM

Washington Initiative 502: both sides of the debate

Washington Initiative 502 has supporters and opponents. University of Washington Election Eye researched each and brings you both sides of the debate. SEATTLE — If you want to know where your chicken fillet comes from, you definitely want to know where your marijuana comes from. Chances are, your dinner wasn’t smuggled under the US-Canada border…


Comments | More in Local, State | Topics: Derek Franklin, Initiative 502, John McKay

October 22, 2012 at 11:00 AM

Seattle Times Ad Buy Leads To Newsroom, Reader Protests

Newspaper political endorsements are made by the editorial board, not anyone in the newsroom, in order to maintain the integrity of the reporting process. But what happens to newspaper credibility if the company itself takes out an ad for a candidate or initiative?

Rob McKenna ad in Seattle Times

Part of the Seattle Times ad, page B6, Wednesday, October 17, 2012

It happened Wednesday, and only in the printed version of The Seattle Times. But the controversy and conversation have played out on Facebook, Twitter and blogs — both mainstream media and organizational.

“It” was an unprecedented act.

The Seattle Times Co. placed a full-page ad on page B6 asking voters to support Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna. It’s an independent expenditure (meaning not coordinated with the campaign) valued at almost $80,000.

And the ad donation makes the Seattle Times the third largest independent contributor to the McKenna campaign, after Our Washington and Stand for the Children WA PAC.

In defending its actions, the company set up a new Twitter account, @SeattleTimesCo:

There has been exactly one tweet, and no response to the three readers who replied.


Comments | More in State | Topics: seattle times

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