Our YAL chapter conducted a straw poll of the GOP presidential candidates in our cafeteria on October 18th. 149 students participated and Congressman Ron Paul won by a large margin. The whole purpose of the straw poll, though, was really to promote our YAL chapter and let people know about our hosting a viewing of the Republican debate on CNN that night in one of the dorm lobbies.
The straw poll helped us get our name out there and generated a lot of interest on campus. If there are other chapters out there looking for ideas to engage with the campus (especially at a smaller school like ours), I would definitely suggest co-sponsoring a straw poll with your campus’s College Republicans, Young Democrats, or other campus political group. It’s a great way to build a relationship with students who are already politically active. And it’s important to connect with those groups with whom you can build a coalition on like-minded issues. In this case, we were able to meet a lot of College Republicans and even recruit a few for YAL meetings.
The one thing to be careful about is giving the impression that your YAL chapter is just another wing of whichever political group you work with. I could see this being a bigger problem at a bigger school with a large and active College Republicans, for instance. People might just assume your group is some sort of Tea Party Republican group, if they don’t read any of your materials or come talk to you. So if a student aprroaches your table, make sure to be clear about what you do and don’t believe — perhaps using some of these YAL palmcards. Also, emphasize that the goal is to get people interested in politics. So in other words, if it were the Democrats selecting their candidate, then the YAL chapter would be doing the same thing. The goal is to raise awareness and gain publicity. As for YAL at MC, I think it worked!Published in