Final Word on 2006 SG Race
Alright, so I’ve not blogged much since the SG election. But, to ensure you that a new season in my blogging has come, I’m putting down my final thoughts about the 2006 SG election.
I still don’t see how Swamp did as well as it did, given what I had been told about their organizational support. Maybe Ignite was exaggerating the Greek split, or maybe the vote tallies are as flawed as I suggested, but I don’t know. I do know the Senate results were pretty typical for the FBK-backed party during a solid victory, with only slightly noticeable up-ticks in support among LS and Grad Students, perhaps a reflection of John Boyles being an atypical FBK candidate with support from Honors kids.
But I will say this, Impact/Unite has had two of the best showings for an opposition party – fall 2005 and spring 2006. They weren’t as good as their supporters would have liked, but they were damn good. Impact was the third strongest for a fall election (after SUN 2000 and Vision 1998). Unite had a more typical result, and probably the less satisifying, but 14 seats is still a very solid showing.
What went wrong for Unite? I can’t say for sure, but I think they over-estimated their appeal to the Greek vote and allowed Swamp to pick up Honors kids organizationally, as opposed to ideologically. But that’s my guess – I’m 800 miles away and have only second-hand information. They probably also over-estimated the appeal of athletes over college council kids.
But they were also hurt by the on-going split in the otherwise successful Access coalition. For two Springs in a row, a number of prominent liberal reformers/Honors kids split the opposition and gained more than 20% of the vote. This election it was kept to just the Treasurer’s race, but the split prevented a cohesion of strength behind one candidate. In Spring 2005, it gave Goldberg and the Gator party a huge victory despite getting just 49% of the vote.
Meanwhile, they were also hurt by the radicalization of what it means to be an Independent. With Jamal’s victory, and the Progress/Voice parties last year, people got the impression that winning an election can be done and should be expected even with a radical reform agenda. Jamal really wasn’t radical, however, and with few exceptions, not even the solidly independent parties (Vision 2000, Voice 2001, etc.) weren’t especially radical. What Unite did in 2006 is perfectly acceptable – getting Greek help was historically normal for an independent party – I just think Unite used athletes too much and squandered an opportunity to rally the Independent base.
Moving forward, I think Impact/Unite has a solid base of support for the fall campaign, but they need to expand their appeal, and win back more of the college council system, etc. They shouldn’t despair, and I think a number of their leaders, including Lola Bovell, still have a shot at greater things in the year to come.