AU student going door-to-door for Hillary Clinton

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Political science student Andreas Gram Drachmann from AU is helping the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate secure victory in the swing state of Virginia.

2016.11.08 | Marie Groth Andersen

Hillary Clinton is getting a little help along the way from AU student Andreas Gram Drachmann, who is part of the Democratic Party’s campaign in the state of Virginia this week. He is chair of the Danish Social Liberal Party’s youth wing in Aarhus and has helped the Danish Social Liberal Party at several parliamentary elections. In fact, he explains that it is not unusual for young politicians from Denmark and other European countries to help out in the election campaign. Photo: Gage Skidmore

Andreas Gram Drachmann door-to-door canvassing in Arlington, Virginia. Photo: Private

In addition to supporting the Democratic Party’s electoral campaign, the 15 young politicians have also visited the Danish embassy and various special interest organisations. The trip is funded by the participants themselves, the youth wing of the Danish Social Liberal Party, and different sponsorships, including from the Danish Social Liberal Party itself. Photo: Private

Andreas Gram Drachmann (right) also got the opportunity to go to Trump Rally i Virginia. Photo: Private

Update from the election evening - and the day after 

Andreas has promised to give us an account of the atmosphere during the election evening and the next day, once it is clear who will be the fourtyfifth President of the United States of America.

While his fellow students at political science are sat in lectures, Andreas Gram Drachmann is instead travelling around Arlington County in the swing state of Virginia and canvassing for the Democratic party in the American presidential election.

Andreas is chair of the Danish Social Liberal Party’s youth wing, and together with 14 other young people from here, he has been helping the campaigners from Young Democrats of America during the final intensive days of the American presidential election as they try to make sure that the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate Hillary Clinton ends up pledging the presidential oath at the Capitol building in Washington.

"We take part in several of the campaign activities used in America, for example calling voters by phone, door-to-door canvassing, handing out flyers and taking part in events," says Andreas, and continues:

"We’ve been given a manuscript describing what we can ask voters about. It’s all about quickly finding out whether they will vote for Clinton, Trump or an independent candidate, or whether they’re in doubt or don’t intend voting. If they vote for Trump, trying to convince them not to is a waste of time. So it’s better to spend time on people who are in doubt or don’t even know whether they’re going to vote,” he explains.

In the USA, the turnout for presidential elections is rarely above 55-60 per cent. By comparison, 86 per cent of eligible voters voted in Denmark’s general election last year. This means a lot of work is done to mobilise new voters, says Andre

Hostile atmosphere 

This year’s presidential election has been called one of the nastiest in recent times. And Andreas Gram Drachmann can clearly sense the ice cold atmosphere between Trump and Clinton supporters.

"There is a very tense atmosphere and people are annoyed at their opponents. There is not much debate, it’s more shouting. So the democratic debate is not enjoying its best days over here. Many people want to get the election over with because it has become so foul-mouthed and the whole atmosphere is so hostile. It’s really unpleasant."

Even though Andreas doesn’t agree with Clinton one hundred per cent, he still supports many of her policies. Because as he says:

"The alternative is much worse."

Not even a glimpse of Clinton 

Even though Andreas is working for Hillary Clinton's campaign, he will not even get a glimpse of her during his time with the campaign.

"She's in North Carolina right now, which is five hours from here by car. While it’s correct to describe Virginia as a traditional swing state, this year everything points to her winning the state, among other things because Tim Kaine (vice presidential candidate for the Democratic Party, ed.) is a senator in Virginia. So she is focusing on other more uncertain states," explains Andreas Gram Drachmann.

Having an influence on the world 

He stresses that not being able to meet the main protagonist is not a big deal. Because for him as both a young politician and a political science student, experiencing an American presidential election from the inside is a great experience.

"It's great to make an active contribution towards the candidate you believe in. This is a way of helping to have an influence on the world. It also gives me a lot academically to experience how an election campaign is fought in another country. In the US, they have far more data about the voters than in Denmark. The apparatus is much larger and it’s easier to mobilise volunteers for the electoral campaign, while the amount of money available is huge. The candidates have billions at their disposal," he says.

Andreas and the other volunteers from the Danish Social Liberal Party’s youth wing will watch the election night in Arlington, Virginia. And the young AU students believe that the champagne corks will be popping.

“I still believe Clinton’s going to win.”

Translated by Peter Lambourne

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Revised 17.11.2017