As pundits argue over the impact of youth voters in the 2004 election, one thing is clear: Bowdoin students of all political persuasions voted in force on Election Day.
"I have not in my career seen this level of interest," Dean of Student Affairs Craig Bradley said.
Although official statistics are not available, College Democrats Co-President Alex Cornell du Houx '06 said that his organization's polling shows that at least 81.5 percent of Bowdoin students voted in this election. Cornell du Houx suspects the actual total was far higher.
Bradley said students were already lining the polls when he went to vote on Tuesday morning.
"I was delighted to see so many Bowdoin students," he said. "It was heartening."
The College is located in Maine's First Congressional District, where Senator John Kerry easily defeated President George W. Bush. The winner of the Second Congressional District, which includes Bangor and Lewiston, was considered too-close-to-call through much of Election Night. Kerry won that district, sweeping Maine's four electoral votes.
Although Bush lost Maine, the College Republicans pointed to successful organizational efforts and exit polls that showed success for Bush among youth.
"College Republicans across the state provided the majority of the volunteers for the Bush team to make the phone calls, go door-to-door, and implement a massive statewide [get-out-the-vote] effort," said Executive Director Chris Averill.
Averill worked at the polls for twelve hours Tuesday, and then drove to Bangor to watch results come in with other Republicans, including Senator Susan Collins.
CNN's exit poll data shows that Bush made a five percent gain among 18-29 year old Maine voters compared to the 2000 election. Fifty percent of young voters surveyed voted for Bush, while 48 percent voted for Senator John Kerry. The CNN study reviewed about 338 Maine voters in that age bracket as they exited polling places on Tuesday.
"This five point change is attributable to our massive registration expansion and our high turnout rates," said College Republicans Chairman Alex Linhart '06.
Republicans estimate through their on-campus polling that approximately 180 Bowdoin students voted for Bush, Averill said.
Democratic polling shows that 10.7 percent of Bowdoin student voters chose Bush while 89.3 percent opted for Kerry.
"The College Democrats had a great impact on this election," Cornell du Houx said. "Bowdoin sent 123 volunteers statewide and 79 volunteered at Bowdoin and [in] Brunswick."
In Orono, polling places ran out of ballots due to an overwhelming University of Maine student vote, Cornell du Houx said.
Nationwide, Cornell du Houx said that Democrats lost the presidential vote due to a surprise emphasis among voters on social issues.
"The Republicans did a great job getting out their base evangelical Christian vote," he said.
Cornell du Houx said the College Democrats are ready to re-elect Governor John Baldacci and Congressmen Tom Allen and Mike Michaud in 2006. Allen and Michaud both were re-elected Tuesday by wide margins.
Averill said that over the next four years, the country should expect to see the "same resoluteness" that Bush exhibited during the "war on terror" before the election. On the domestic side, he expects continued implementation of tax cuts and "a call from within the Congress for a real attempt at slashing the deficit."
"I think that over the next four years, the country will attempt to unite if both parties can continue to talk like Senator Kerry and President Bush spoke yesterday," Averill said.
Approximately 51.6 percent of Americans under the age of 30 showed up at the polls this year, compared to 42.3 percent in 2000, according to the University of Maryland's Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning & Engagement. The national turnout rate for all voters is estimated at nearly 60 percent.
Final Maine tallies have not yet been compiled by the Secretary of State's office, but Secretary Dan Gwadowsky said in a release that Maine may exceed its all-time voter turnout record of 73 percent.