Going door-to-door, a group of Rutgers students urged Pennsylvania residents to cast their votes for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in an effort to tilt the state’s race her way.
On Saturday morning, about 60 members of Rutgers for Hillary, University faculty and New Brunswick area residents took a bus from the College Avenue campus to Clinton’s campaign field office in Philadelphia. They spent the day canvassing in the City of Brotherly Love.
“Pennsylvania is the battleground state that is nearest to us, and we want to make the biggest impact we can,” said Jeremy Atie, president of Rutgers for Hillary. “We went where our involvement and our work was going to matter the most.”
Like in Florida, North Carolina, Ohio and Nevada, Clinton must withstand strong support for her Republican counterpart Donald Trump and galvanize Democratic voters in order to triumph in Pennsylvania.
The state’s 20 electoral votes are highly coveted by both candidates, and especially by Trump, who faces an uphill battle in acquiring the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency.
The former Secretary of State has a 4-point lead among likely voters in the state, according to a recent CNN/ORC poll. Another survey, conducted by Ipsos and Reuters, also found a 4-point edge for Clinton, who is backed by 48 percent of the state’s electorate, compared to Trump’s 44 percent.
Pennsylvania has voted for the Democratic nominee for the past six presidential elections, with George H. W. Bush having been the last Republican to carry the state in 1988.
Atie, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, said Clinton’s campaign office in Philadelphia brought together supporters from surrounding areas, including Rutgers for Hillary, to knock on doors in the city and its suburbs to preserve Pennsylvania’s status as a blue state. Atie’s group was assigned to canvass in the Center City district.
They spent hours informing city residents of Clinton’s platform, and advising them to head to the polls on Tuesday to vote for the former first lady and other Democratic officials in down-ticket races. Atie estimated that the group approached approximately 1,300 homes.
Although Rutgers for Hillary canvassed for their candidate in New Jersey during the Democratic primary against Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.), they have not done so for the general election.
“There is really no need. (Clinton) is leading by double digits. We are more needed in other states,” Atie said.
Clinton is heavily favored to carry New Jersey, where she has an 11-point lead over Trump, according to a Stockton University poll.
Marcelle Mathews, treasurer of Rutgers for Hillary, values the “intimate setting” that canvassing creates between prospective voters and campaigners.
“Sending things by mail and e-mailing things are somewhat effective, but I think getting that personal contact and knocking on someone’s door is honestly the most effective way to get a vote out,” she said.
Mathews, a Rutgers Business School junior, said one of the most noteworthy experiences on Saturday was when she was greeted by a girl after knocking on one of the homes. Mathews said the girl rushed to the door, called her mother and was ecstatic when the canvassers mentioned Clinton’s name.
“She was like ‘Hillary Clinton! I love Hillary Clinton!’ and then her mom comes running behind her and explains how they were a pro-Hillary household,” Mathews said. “It was just great to hear that even at such a young age, she has heard of Hillary Clinton.”
Camilo Montoya-Galvez is a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student majoring in Spanish and journalism and media studies. He is a staff writer for The Daily Targum. Follow him on Twitter @camiloooom.