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UW Election Eye 2012

Campaign 2012 through the eyes of UW faculty and students

Topic: University of Washington

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December 31, 2012 at 7:00 AM

It’s been epic, see you in 2016

We have filed more than 400 posts on U.S. presidential, state, and local politics over the past 12 months. It’s been an incredible experience as journalists, educators, and citizens. We’re now going to take a break, but we’ll be back in four years for the next presidential rodeo.

On the final day of the South Carolina Republican Party presidential primary, January 21, 2012, Newt Gingrich made several campaign stops — including at this iconic Southern eatery. Photo by David Domke/UW Election Eye.

Nearly one year ago, on Jan. 14, I boarded an airplane with three University of Washington students and headed across the country. Our mission was epic: to spend a week on the ground reporting on the South Carolina 2012 Republican Party presidential primary. It was our first gig for UW Election Eye, a new blog partnership of the UW’s Department of Communication and The Seattle Times.

One week later I had a pretty good idea who was going to win the 2012 presidential election. Arizona congressional representative Trent Franks told me so.

Franks, one of the nation’s most conservative congressional members and a favorite of the tea party movement, was standing by Newt Gingrich’s bus as Gingrich spoke to supporters in his last stop of the state’s primary. A few hours later Gingrich would win his first statewide race in his life — a double-digit victory over Mitt Romney that upended the Republican primary for a time.

Franks was one of the few members of Congress to endorse Gingrich. A former speaker of the House of Representatives, Gingrich does not have many friends in high political places these days. But Franks is one of them, and he was traveling with Gingrich on the campaign trail.

I spoke with Franks for 10 minutes while Gingrich held court inside a restaurant. Franks told me why he supported Gingrich and why Barack Obama had to be defeated. I thanked him for talking with me and turned to walk away.

That’s when Franks surprised me.

He took hold of my arm and said, “Hold on, I’ve got one more thing to say.” I was listening. He stretched out his index finger and said “The 1 percent. We hear a lot about the 99 percent and the 1 percent. Mitt Romney is a caricature of the 1 percent — rich, out of touch, doesn’t understand most of America. If Republicans nominate Romney in the midst of this terrible economic time, we’re going to lose. That’s why I’m here. We will lose if we pick Romney.”

That’s when I knew: If a diehard conservative, a red-blooded Republican who would do anything to get rid of Obama, thought Romney couldn’t win, then Romney almost certainly wouldn’t win.

That moment is one I’ll not forget. It was one of the hundreds of up-close-and-personal experiences, all over America, that defined UW Election Eye.


Comments | More in Local, National, State | Topics: Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, The Seattle Times

November 6, 2012 at 9:22 PM

University of Washington students gather at Husky Union Building to view elections

Husky Union Building at University of Washington (Photo by Lauren LeMieux/UW Election Eye) SEATTLE–With so many viewing parties happening in Seattle tonight, it can be hard to pick the perfect spot. But the newly renovated Husky Union Building on the UW’s Seattle campus appears to be the destination of choice for many students so far…


Comments | More in International, Local | Topics: 2012 Election, Foundation for International Understanding Through Students, HUB

October 18, 2012 at 7:10 AM

Elephant in the election room: cost of higher education

With the cost of higher education rising along with the level of student debt upon graduation, politicians at the national and state level need to address the issue frankly and provide real solutions. The average college student in Washington State graduates with over $22,000 of student debt. (Photo courtesy of Getty Images.) SEATTLE — As a…


Comments | More in Local, State | Topics: student debt, student loans, Tuition

August 27, 2012 at 12:45 PM

Seattle Times – UW Election Eye Meetup Survey

SEATTLE — It’s campaign season, and this election figures to be an important one. With so much on the ballot, from gay marriage to a potentially historic governor’s race, The Seattle Times and the University of Washington Election Eye are teaming up to host meetups to help voters understand what’s at stake. We have a…


Comments | More in Local | Topics: election, meetup, seattle times

June 11, 2012 at 6:30 AM

A Seattle woman named Melanie: young, pregnant, and homeless

Melanie, a homeless woman on a Seattle street corner on May 3, 2012. (Photo by Thor Tolo/UW Election Eye)

During election cycles, much attention is paid to the economy, and more specifically, job creation. UWEE talked to a homeless woman in Seattle about how she found herself on the street after her career faltered, which provides a sobering reminder of how easily it could happen to others.

SEATTLE — Melanie has bright eyes, a welcoming smile, and a wicked laugh. She is 27 years old, a jewelry artist, an expectant mother, and a self-proclaimed Republican. A former Whidbey Island resident, Melanie currently lives on the streets. She panhandles for a living, sleeping in doorways with her boyfriend and her dog Duke.

Five years ago, Melanie’s life was very different. She explained that she owned her own home and a successful jewelry business. Then the economy turned.  “The tourists started buying cheap key chains and stopped buying my jewelry,” she said.  Without reliable income, she found herself struggling to make ends meet. First, the career she built was lost. The house followed.

While standing on the corner of 45th and University Way, a stone’s throw from the University of Washington campus, Melanie and Duke hold court. Melanie displays a sign asking for money for marijuana and beer. She says that the sign is more for the amusement of those that pass her on the streets than anything else: local college kids will give to a cause when they readily agree with the sentiment. A young man stops and gives Melanie two cigarettes and she tucks one behind each ear. He laughs, then gives her two more to which she responds, “I only have two ears!” and pretends to give them to her dog. A college-aged young man hands Melanie ten bucks and tells her to buy Duke dog food, to which she smiles and says, “I will! Thanks!”


Comments | More in Local | Topics: Homelessness, Republican, Seattle

June 4, 2012 at 7:42 AM

The two UWs: Whether in Washington or Wisconsin, college degrees don’t come cheap

The University of Washington and the University of Wisconsin-Madison share more than initials; both universities and their students are struggling with the rising costs of education and its impact on the quality of education.

MILWAUKEE — This Sunday, the Foster School of Business graduation ceremony marked the end of Cheney Ferrell’s four years at the UW. And although she has worked 20 hours a week since the beginning of her sophomore year of college to make ends meet, Sunday’s graduation also triggered the six-month countdown until she starts paying back about $15,000 in loans.

Figure: Over the last 30 years, the average cost of undergraduate tuition at a 4-year university has more than doubled in terms of its percentage of the median household income. (Provided by the Center for College Affordability and Productivity)

For another UW student — a University of Wisconsin-Madison student — graduation might mean the same thing in a few years. Jensen Trotter just finished up his sophomore year at UW-Madison and is looking for another job, since his and 18 other positions at the campus’ Multicultural Student Coalition were recently cut. Although he hasn’t taken out much money in loans so far, thanks to a small amount of federal aid and savings from his parents, Trotter knows the financial responsiblity that comes with getting a college degree.


Comments | More in National | Topics: College affordability, Tuition, Tuition increase

April 15, 2012 at 2:10 PM

One year, many changes in the 46th LD – part 1

The 46th legislative district, covering Northeast Seattle, Lake Forest Park and Kenmore, has a whole new shape, and a whole new slate of candidates following formative events within the last year.

46th LD – old in red, new in blue | View in a larger map

This was the home district of the late Sen. Scott White whose untimely passing last year left a hole not only in Olympia, but also in the heart of the 46th. White would have been the majority whip and vice-chair of the transportation committee this session.


Comments | More in Local | Topics: 46th Legislative District, Demographics, Election 2012

April 15, 2012 at 7:55 AM

Why do you vote?

Editors note:  A previous version of this story contained an additional image at the top.  That image has been removed to avoid a potential dispute over photo permissions.

Why do you vote? It’s a simple question, yet not always easy to answer.

TACOMA — Personally, it took me a while to offer anything remotely eloquent or thoughtful (and even that’s debatable) to the question at the top of this post.

I vote because I know it’s an important action to take as an engaged and active citizen. I vote because I hope that as a member of a participatory democratic process my voice can and will be heard. But ultimately, I vote because many people my age do not. By taking action I hope to make my generation become more engaged in our political system.


Comments | More in State | Topics: College Civics Week, Demographics, Election 2012

March 1, 2012 at 5:44 PM

Robo-polled on a Thursday afternoon

Illustration by Jessica Esch ( All was pretty quiet here in my third-story grad-student office at the University of Washington, my desk piled high with dusty books. Then my cellphone rang, with an “802” area code. I answered. “Hello, my name is Robert,” a voice told me. “You have been selected to participated in an automated poll.” He/it…


Comments | Topics: campaign oddities, University of Washington, WA Caucuses

February 27, 2012 at 6:30 AM

Memories of 2008 — A Clinton fan who caucused for Obama

Time cover from 2008 Democratic Primary contest. This Saturday, Republicans across Washington state will cast votes for their presidential nominee. It will be their big moment. In 2008 it was mine. I began the year as a high school senior, and I looked forward to doing something I had been longing to do since taking U.S. History…


Comments | Topics: 2008 Election, Barack Obama, Barak Obama

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