Northeastern students weigh in on the governor’s race


Kate Armanini

Several political organizations on campus hosted a voter registration drive in Centennial Common Oct. 12. Northeastern students have mixed feelings regarding the upcoming gubernatorial election.

Eli Curwin, news staff

With the Nov. 8 Massachusetts governor’s race in full swing, fundraisers, events and speeches are scheduled daily, and Northeastern students are feeling everything from excited to uninformed about the election of the state’s next governor.

As Northeastern is ranked one of the most liberal colleges, in one of the most liberal states, it is likely most students agree that Democratic candidate Maura Healey is the clear choice and likely winner over Republican candidate Geoff Diehl. 

“I am very excited to have a progressive candidate absolutely cross-check a Republican out of the way,” said Amalya Labell, a second-year psychology major and registered Massachusetts voter. “It is such an exciting time.”

Healey, a progressive attorney general and member of the LGBTQ+ community, has galvanized the Democratic base around her. Diehl, a right-wing former state legislator, has the bulk of his support coming from the more conservative side of the GOP.

The state-wide elections in Massachusetts currently stand with Healey as the 23.2-point favorite over her Republican counterpart. The Democratic candidates for attorney general and secretary of state, Andrea Campbell and Bill Galvin respectively, also hold substantial leads over their opponents. For Republicans across the state, a blue wave seems imminent.

On Northeastern’s campus, some Republicans have all but given up on the upcoming elections. Despite supporting Diehl’s campaign, Northeastern College Republicans understand and acknowledge the difficulty that comes with electing far-right Republicans in a progressive state. 

Ronan Connolly, a second-year political science student and treasurer of the Northeastern College Republicans, has worked on several past elections throughout the New England area to help elect Republican candidates. However, efforts to elect far-right candidates, such as Geoff Diehl and his running mate Leah Allen, seem futile, Connolly said.

“In Massachusetts, it’s really tough if you want to work for a Republican because you pretty much know they are going to lose,” Connolly said. “It looks really bleak for Republicans in Massachusetts right now. I think we are going to have a lot of Democrats getting elected.”

However, many Republicans believe that it did not have to be this way. Out of the last 10 governors of Massachusetts, seven have been Republicans, but all have been significantly more moderate than the far-right Diehl. Diehl’s easily won victory at the Massachusetts GOP convention — claiming over 70% of the delegate votes — accelerated his campaign into a primary victory over moderate Chris Doughty, energizing some Republicans, but alienating and disappointing others.

“You got to know your crowd, you gotta know your constituency, and I don’t know how the [Massachusetts] GOP thought it was a good idea to pump up Geoff Diehl, knowing that a right-wing Republican has a terrible shot of winning in Massachusetts,” Connolly said.

Even with a significant lead, some Democrats at Northeastern have continued to canvas and campaign for Healey. For Democratic students like Jeremy Thompson, a third-year finance major and political director of Northeastern College Democrats, elections are both a means to elect representatives who will push voters’ beliefs, but also a way to mobilize a base to become acutely civically engaged.

“Seeing as Maura Healey is going to be the first openly gay [female] governor that this country has ever seen, is pretty groundbreaking for us,” Thompson said. “There’s that representation that she can show to different LGBT communities on top of her track record of supporting progressive policies.”

For the Northeastern College Democrats and other politically active groups on campus, figuring out ways to reach students who may be uninformed or uninterested in politics can be difficult, but there are ways to get around it, Thompson said. Using voter drives and presentations for clubs and classes, College Democrats have continuously worked to register more students.

“I think it is all about hitting those students where they are at, and what they are already engaged in, to really drive home the point that this thing is important,” Thompson said on registering students to vote. “It doesn’t hurt you in any way and it doesn’t inconvenience you all that much, but it can mean the world to you and your community.”

For students who are not involved with political organizations on campus, considerations of who to vote for and how to vote will likely begin closer to election day. 

“Right now, I don’t know a lot about [the governor’s race] at all,” said Abby Noreck, a second-year environmental and sustainability science major. “But I am going to look into it before I vote, I am not just going to blindly vote for a candidate.”

With students from Northeastern coming from all states and countries, many will be filling out absentee ballots for their local elections. In Noreck’s case, her friends are likely to vote by mail for their home state.

“Most of my friends are not from Massachusetts,” Noreck said. “They’ll vote in their midterms, not in Massachusetts, by mail-in.” 

According to a national poll conducted by the Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School, students that are able to vote in elections are likely to vote blue, if they vote at all. Massachusetts voters aged 18 to 35 support Healey by a 27-point margin, but for younger voters, election ambiguity lies not in support, but in turnout.

Whether it be because younger voters haven’t formed the habit of voting, a pessimistic view of polarized politics or simply because they don’t have the time, voters 18 to 29 are notorious for avoiding the ballot box on election day. Increasing younger and college-student voter turnout has been an issue tackled by many groups at Northeastern.

In recent elections, Northeastern organizations have come together, pushing students to register to vote. Coalitions like Northeastern Votes and organizations like Huskies for Bernie have held several events and voter registration drives in the past to increase voter turnout on Northeastern’s campus. 

According to a Tufts University study on voter registration and turnout, in 2018 Northeastern saw a 42.6% voting rate and a 74.9% registration rate, an increase of 23.8% and 6.9% respectively from 2014. 

Despite their ideological differences, both Northeastern Republicans and Democrats said they understand the importance of informing their fellow students about the value of politics and voting. Members said their respective club meetings are often fun and educational in the hopes to engage all students in the political process. 

“I think that a lot of people on campus actually are disengaged from politics,” Thompson said. “The reality is that if they could see themselves in the policies, if they could see their hopes, their interests, their wants, their dreams in these policies, then of course they would be more engaged.”