Twelve SUNY Oneonta political science students are getting an inside look at the presidential election process during a five-day trip to New Hampshire that culminates today with the first-in-the-nation primary.
The group, led by SUNY Oneonta Assistant Professor of Political Science Dr. Gina Keel, includes 11 SUNY Oneonta students and one community member who is auditing Keel’s Presidential Election Campaigns course this spring.
They’ve been following the campaign trail since Friday and have so far managed to get at least a glimpse of all six major Republican candidates. Highlights have included a speech by Mitt Romney at a spaghetti dinner for supporters and a series of panel discussions at Saint Anselm College examining the economic issues that are likely to frame the election. Hosted by The National Journal and The Atlantic, the event featured remarks by Rick Santorum and analysis by several prominent journalists, pollsters and political consultants.
On Monday, the students met with New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner and toured the Statehouse, and tonight they will join international journalists and observers at a Primary Watch Party in Concord, N.H.
Adam Shapiro, a senior political science major from Long Island, said being in the thick of things has been an amazing learning experience. “You take the classes, but to see it actually happening and to put the thoughts, concepts and ideas into practice — it just gives you a whole new understanding of what’s going on.”
This is the second time Keel has offered the course. During a similar field experience in New Hampshire in 2008, she and her students attended campaign events featuring President Obama, Hillary Clinton, John Edwards and John McCain.
“What’s different and somewhat surprising is the decrease in large public speeches and street-level supporter activity by campaigns and interest groups compared to four years ago. This time, there are more private events, quickie photo-op-only events and debates with hand-picked audiences,” she said Monday. “Students say the experience of watching campaigns and media in action remains exciting and valuable, and several have spontaneously engaged in street-level debates and sign waving on behalf of their preferred candidates.”