We talked to Dartmouth students as they watched NH primary results come in

Dartmouth College students rally for Joe Biden write-in campaign before the Jan. 23 primary election. Photo by Katy Savage

By Katy Savage

January 24, 2024

About 50 Dartmouth College students attended a primary election watch party at the Rockefeller on Tuesday night.

They ate free pizza, snacks, and soda while they waited for CNN to call the election just after polls closed. They laughed when CNN reported Chris Christie, who dropped out of the race on Jan.10, got 2% of the vote in one town. 

And when CNN projected Joe Biden would win the New Hampshire primary via a write-in campaign, most of them cheered. 

“I’m here because New Hampshire has a unique role and responsibility,” said Peder Solberg, a 27-year-old grad student studying engineering. “I think the stakes are high for the future of our country. The decision kind of already seems like it’s going one way. I think the tone is set and the opinions of the voters, even if they’re in the minority, are really important.” 

Unofficial results show Biden won the Democratic primary with 55.2% (64,503 votes), followed by Dean Phillips with 19.6% of the votes and Marianne Williamson with 4.6%. 

Former President Donald Trump won the Republican primary, defeating Niki Haley with 54.5% of the vote, compared to Haley’s 43.3%. 

 Students had their phones and laptops out, looking at election maps and talking about future projections with their peers. They knew their vote was important. 

Studies show young people could be a force in the 2024 presidential election. CIRCLE, or the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, found Gen Z, ages 18 to 26, will make up over 40 million potential voters— about one fifth of the American electorate. Around 8 million people have also newly reached voting age since the last election in 2022.

“Young people understand what’s at stake in this election—and it’s democracy,” said JJ Dega, 19.  “We don’t want it to be the last presidential election we can vote in.”

“Part of being in a represented democracy is that all voices are heard. We understand that and want our voices to be heard.” 

Dega wore a Biden T-shirt at the event. He wants to be a delegate for the Democratic National Convention.  

 Students sat around the television in the Rockefeller Center, where above the television was a quote from Vice President Nelson A. Rockefeller, a 1930 Dartmouth College graduate: “It is essential that we enable young people to see themselves as participants in one of the most exciting years in history and to have a sense of purpose in relation to it.” 

Bob Coates, the assistant director of the Rockefeller Center, said students are passionate about this election and the college tries to encourage that. Dartmouth College has hosted past national debates and rallies for candidates, including Hillary Clinton and Chris Christie. 

“(Students) want to see it,” Coates said.”They want to touch it, feel it.”

Tuna Akmehmet, a 19-year-old Turkish-American student, wanted to see more of his peers participating.  

“I think not enough people are voting,” Akmehmet said. “Internationally, people should be looking up to America as the beacon of democracy. Especially as young people, it’s really important that our voices are heard.” 

Tuesday’s primary was 18-year-old Ben Schanzer’s first time voting.

“It’s everything,” said Schanzer, a Massachusetts native, as he watched Haley give her concession speech on the television. “We’ve seen Trump try to overthrow an election before while he was on the way out, and if he has four years to do it, I don’t know what will stop him.” 

 

 

Author

  • Katy Savage

    Katy Savage is an award-winning reporter with more than 10 years of experience working in daily, weekly and digital news organizations as both an editor and reporter. Based in Enfield, Katy is a New England native and has a passion for telling stories about where she grew up. In her free time, she enjoys running and being outside as much as possible.

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