Boston Globe, August 20, 2004 -- With Senator John F. Kerry enjoying a sizable lead among college students, College Republicans on several liberal campuses in Massachusetts and other states say they will not work with Democrats on voter registration drives this fall because the efforts lock in more youth votes for President Bush's opponent.
Instead, members of the Massachusetts Alliance of College Republicans, as well as their fellow Republicans in other Democratic-leaning states, are pursuing their own, more targeted, voter registration drives.
"We faced a dilemma of what organizations to join in terms of voter registration possibilities, and we decided that we could be more effective if we did it ourselves," said Max Buccini, treasurer of the Massachusetts Alliance of College Republicans, a organization with clubs on more than 30 college campuses.
A national poll released in July by the Institute of Politics at the Kennedy School of Government found Kerry had built a 20-point lead among college students, with 55 percent of the vote.
The Democratic contender's lead has widened since March when a similar Institute of Politics poll found that 50 percent of students surveyed said they would vote for Kerry while 39 percent would vote for Bush.
At Tufts University, a group of students calling themselves the Tufts 1200 have pledged to register 1,200 new voters before the election.
Conservatives' reluctance to register more college liberals extends beyond Kerry's home state.
At Northwestern University in Illinois, where the College Republicans have 150 members, compared with 900 College Democrats, the Republicans have not considered voter registration as part of their campaign strategy.
"If you aim to increase the number of young conservatives registered, you are not going to do it at an elite university campus."
John Velasco, MIT chairman for Student for Bush, said voter registration will be more effective only when Republicans make the political sacrifice and target all students to register.