McCain wins campus, loses state

Correction: This article incorrectly stated that the Republican caucus was held at Coffman Union. The correct location was Ford Hall.

The youth voter trend sweeping the nation this election year was apparent on campus Tuesday night, as hundreds of University Republicans trekked to their local caucuses, many for the first time.

One such voter, retail merchandising junior Masada Sela, said she was accompanying her friends, who supported Ron Paul.

“My boyfriend probably wouldn’t talk to me if I didn’t vote for him,” she said, smiling.

At Ford Hall, the site of one of a handful of precinct caucus locations near campus, nearly 150 people stayed to caucus through the evening, while at least another 150 students came for just one reason: to participate in the presidential preference poll.

The results of Tuesday night’s presidential preference vote at Ford showed John McCain the winner, with 33 percent of the 317 votes cast. Paul came in second with nearly 30 percent of the vote. Paul spoke at Northrop Memorial Auditorium on Monday. Mitt Romney was third with more than 19 percent of the votes, and Mike Huckabee received a little more than 16 percent.

On-campus caucus results differed greatly from statewide reports, in which Romney took top caucus honors with 41.6 percent at press time, with 64 percent of the precincts reporting. McCain was a distant second at 21.7 percent, with Huckabee a close third and Paul fourth.

Chris Kulvik, a first-year political science and marketing student, was one of about one-third of Ford Hall caucus-goers who backed McCain.

“He’s being a realistic candidate,” Kulvik said, citing McCain’s Iraq withdrawal plan and willingness to work with Democrats as reasons for his support of the candidate.

In Minnesota, the allocation of GOP delegates is nonbinding; meaning the results of last night’s caucuses will not dictate how the state’s delegates are assigned. The results of the DFL presidential preference ballot, however, are binding – signifying that 72 of Minnesota’s 88 delegates are tied to the results of last night’s vote.

Minnesota GOP spokesman Mark Drake said despite his party’s results being nonbinding, the presidential preference results have significance.

“This is really the first test of strength for candidates in Minnesota,” Drake said, adding that it’s an important look at how Minnesotans feel about the candidates on a grassroots level.

Drake said the Minnesota GOP assigns the majority of its delegates at later conventions, so “people are bound to candidates that are still running.”

Seven delegates from the Ford Hall caucus were elected to represent the precinct in the next level of Republican convention.